Ariosto in the Machine Age
Published: November 2023© 2023
410 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in, 102 colour illustrations, 38 b&w illustrations
Ebook - PDF
Ariosto in the Machine Age reveals how the most influential poet of the Renaissance was conjured or appropriated to shape Magical Realism, avant-garde painting, Fascist cultural propaganda, and cinema in modern Italy between the birth of Futurism and the end of the Second World War.
Based on substantial archival findings, bold iconographic hypotheses, and novel interpretations of literary texts, the book proposes a new account of Italy’s twentieth-century culture through a unique take on Ludovico Ariosto’s early modern poetics and legacy. Starting from the unexpected passéism of Futurists visiting Ferrara on the eve of the First World War, it rereads the development of Giorgio de Chirico’s Metaphysical art and Massimo Bontempelli’s Realismo Magico. The book reconstructs the multimedia archive of the Fascist initiatives for the 1933 centennial anniversary of Ariosto’s death, and then focuses on the passage between Fascist cinema and the birth of neorealism, unearthing unfinished adaptations of the Orlando Furioso by Luchino Visconti and Alessandro Blasetti. Questioning the very concept of reception, this radically interdisciplinary book warns twenty-first-century readers about the risks of monumentalizing the "great authors" of the past.
List of Illustrations
Introduction: Peeking from Parnassus: Ariosto the Amphibian
1. The Great Metaphysician: Ariosto’s Encounters with Ferrara’s Avant-Garde
2. Ludovico’s Gifts: The Ariostean Spirit of Magical Realism
3. Eternal Renaissance: Ariosto’s Presence in Fascist Ferrara
4. Theatrical Ghosts: Not Adapting the Orlando Furioso in Late Modernity
"Alessandro Giammei’s book offers a kaleidoscopic study of Ariosto’s early twentieth-century reception and a novel conceptualization of Italy in the machine age. Adept at identifying casual and often indirect encounters with the Orlando Furioso, it explores how such encounters generate – among other things – Futurist art, Ferrarese fascism, and experimental film. Skilful and scholarly, it fills in with glorious detail a significant gap in our understanding of Ariosto’s afterlives."Ita Mac Carthy, Professor of Italian, Durham University
"This tour de force situates Ariosto – or rather, the myth of Ariosto – front and centre in modern Italian culture while also alerting readers to the ambiguities and ideologies behind the construction of any iconic figure. In tracing the Orlando Furioso’s ‘modern afterlife,’ Alessandro Giammei offers new ways of reading the artists, movements, and media that defined (and sometimes instrumentalized) culture in twentieth-century Italy."Jo Ann Cavallo, Professor of Italian, Columbia University
"Ariosto’s unlikely and far-reaching consequence for Italian modernism finds in Alessandro Giammei’s hands a study as theoretically adventurous as it is philologically rigorous. A keen reader of images and a thinker on a grand scale, Giammei tunnels between early modern epic and the twentieth-century avant-garde with incisiveness and grace."Ara H. Merjian, Professor of Italian Studies, New York University