Orlando Innamorato  

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Orlando Innamorato (Orlando in Love) is an epic poem written by the Italian Renaissance author Matteo Maria Boiardo. The poem, written in the ottava rima stanza rhythm, consists of 68 cantos and a half. Boiardo began the poem when he was about 38 years old, but interrupted it for a time because of the Venetian war. He is believed to have continued till 1486, but then left the poem unfinished. The last verses say:

"Mentre ch'io canto, Iddio Redentore
vedo l'Italia tutta a fiamma e foco.|Matteo Maria Boiardo, Orlando innamorato}}meaning that during his work at the poem Boiardo could see all Italy in war. In 1494 Charles VIII of France had entered Italy to extend his power over its various states."

Boiardo's Orlando was first published in 1495. The poem, after sixteen editions, was not to be republished for nearly three centuries. Francesco Berni's rifacimento, or recasting of L'Orlando appeared in 1542, and from that date till 1830, when Panizzi revived it, Boiardo's name was all but forgotten.

Orlando Innamorato is a romance concerning the travels of the heroic knight Orlando (Roland). To material largely quarried from the Carolingian and Arthurian cycles Boiardo added a superstructure of his own making. As the plot is not woven around a single pivotal action, the inextricable maze of most cunningly contrived episodes are seen to be linked, first, with the quest of beautiful Angelica by love-smitten Orlando and the other enamoured knights, then with the defence of Albracca by Angelica's father, the King of Cathay, against the beleaguering Tartars, and, finally, with the Moors' siege of Paris and their struggle with Charlemagne's army.

In spite of its unfinished state and some deficiencies in rhythm, Boiardo's Orlando is considered a magnificent work of art, echoing throughout the poet's ardent devotion to Love and Loyalty, shedding warmth and sunshine wherever the lapse of ages had rendered the legends colourless and cold. Orlando's exploits were continued in the Orlando Furioso by Ludovico Ariosto in 1516. Also another Renaissance poet, Torquato Tasso also borrowed on many of Boiardo's epic conventions, although his Jerusalem Delivered does not use the Orlando frame.

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