Ludovico Ariosto was born on September 8, 1474 in Italy. Although his father had planned for him to have a legal career and he reluctantly studied law, he eventually turned to the study of literature. This was abruptly halted by the death of his father in 1500 and Ludovico, as the eldest, had to support his nine younger siblings. To this end, he spent the majority of his life in the service of the Este family of Ferrara. Ariosto wrote many popular plays, poems, and satires. The poem Orlando Furioso is his masterpiece and is considered one of the greatest embodiments of the literary and spiritual ideas of the Italian Renaissance. A long narrative written in octave stanzas, it consists of several episodes deftly modeled on epics, romances, and heroic poems. His seven Satires reveal his sorrow at his inability to complete his literary studies. Other works include Cassaria, La Lena, and I Suppositi, particularly notable because they were written in the vernacular. Ariosto spent his last years of life in Ferrara married to Alessandra Benucci, during which time he revised Orlando Furioso. He died on July 6, 1533.
David Slavitt, born in White Plains, N.Y. in 1935, is a prolific writer, poet, translator of classical works, and contributor to edited works. He has an AB from Columbia University and an MA from Columbia University and he has lectured at numerous colleges and universities. Slavitt began writing poetry while he was still at Phillips Andover. After graduating from college and beginning a Ph.D., he began working as a writer at Newsweek. During the seven years he worked there, he published his first book of poetry, Suits for the Dead. Slavitt is considered by critics to be a "minor" novelist. He considers himself to be first and foremost a poet who writes novels in order to support himself as a poet. His first novel, Rochelle, or Virtue Rewarded, was published in 1966. Among his better-known works is Alice at 80, a fictionalized account of the elderly Alice of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. Slavitt also writes under the names David Benjamin, Henry Lazarus, Lynn Meyer, and Henry Sutton. As Henry Sutton, Slavitt has written works less "literary" works that have sold well such as The Exhibitionist and The Sacrifice: A Novel of the Occult.