A New Verse Translation
Ludovico Ariosto, translated by David R. Slavin
Belknap Harvard, $39.95, 672 pp.
During the high Middle Ages, poems written on the “Matter of France”—that is, tales of the paladins of Charlemagne and of Count Roland (or Orlando) in particular—were among Europe’s most beloved literary entertainments; only stories of the Arthurian court (the “Matter of Britain”) rivaled them in popularity, variety, or extravagance of invention. One would scarcely guess this if one knew only of the Chanson de Roland, the late-eleventh-century poem from which the whole Carolingian...
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