Gustave Doré, illustration for Orlando Furioso (The Madness of Orlando), 1877
I wanted to turn my attention to something that will take my mind off the art swindle I’ve lately been writing about and I thought Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso along with Gustave Doré’s always marvelous engravings for the book would provide a nice respite from the grimness of the present circumstances. Although Ariosto’s story uses the war between the Christian emperor Charlemagne and the Saracen king of Africa, Agramante, as a backdrop the opposing armies fortunately aren’t equipped with chemical weapons, predator drones, IEDs and depleted uranium from armor-piercing munitions causing massive birth defects in local civilian populations.
Ariosto’s magnificent poem influenced later literature, such as Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream and Cervantes’ Quixote. His impact is still felt today through his influence on 20th-century writers as diverse as Jorge Luis Borges, Italo Calvino, Osip Mandelstam and Salman Rushdie.
Gustave Doré, illustration from Orlando Furioso
Above is what I consider a breathtaking piece by Doré, the quality of whose prolific output over a lifetime inspires me with awe. Here we see the knight Astolfo flying up to the moon in Elijah’s flaming chariot in order to recover Orlando’s lost wits, which he then returns to him in a bottle. Orlando sniffs from the bottle and restores his sanity, by falling out of love with the fair Angelica, who has led him astray from his soldierly duties.
Here is Orlando, on a break from being Furioso presumably, as he glides through a wonderful wooded glen on the back of a hippogryph.
The gigantic sea monster known as the Orc. Why Tolkein felt inclined to purloin the name from Ariosto is no clearer to me than why Rowling did the same to his Hippogriff.
Gustave Doré, Ruggiero Rescuing Angelica
Viewing the fair Angelica gives us the information necessary to see how Orlando had gotten himself so worked up.
(Paul R, if you’re reading, at this point I’m tempted to locate an image by an artist I don’t recognize and see if you can come up with his name. As bizarre cyber-sychronicity would have it, the place I found the first image to borrow had a comment by you on top recounting picking up a copy of Joko’s Anniversary. Another thing to be jealous about.)
I’ll put the blog location here (http://jahsonic.wordpress.com/2013/05/19/grandville-as-the-sorcerer-priest-of-commodity-fetishism/) as I was also just reading Walter Benjamin’s chapter on Grandville and Jahsonic has this post I want to follow up on.
Trying to maintain brevity I’ll close this one off with Vivaldi’s Orlando Furioso with Dore’s illustrations sprinkled through.