Born in Reggio, Italy, in 1474, Ludovico Ariosto lived most of his life in Ferrara, in northern Italy. He enjoyed the patronage first of Cardinal Ippolito and then of the cardinal's brother, Alfonso, Duke of Este, who had been his inseparable companion in youth. Aristo composed a mock epic of chivalry titled Orlando Furioso. It appeared in 1516 and 1521 before the definitive edition of 1532. Hegel observed that Ariosto prepared the way for the treatment of chivalry in Cervantes's Don Quixote and Shakespeare's Falstaff in a gently veiled humor. A translation of Orlando Furioso into English heroic verse by Sir John Harrington was published in 1591, but by then Edmund Spenser had already sought to outdo Ariosto's epic in his own Faerie Queene. Walter Scott read a translation by John Hoole in 1783, and Byron drew on it for his Don Juan. In addition to the mock epic, Ariosto wrote many lyric poems in Latin and Italian, seven satires in terza rima, and five comedies in unrhymed lines of 11 syllables. His satires were read and imitated by Thomas Wyatt. One of his comedies, I suppositi, was translated and adapted into English by George Gascoigne and performed at Gray's Inn in 1566. It provided Shakespeare with much of the content and inspiration for The Taming of the Shrew. Ariosto died on July 6,1533.
Charles S. Ross is Professor of English and Chair of the Comparative Literature Program at Purdue University.
David R. Slavitt was born in White Plains, New York in 1935. He received an AB and an MA from Columbia University. After graduating from college and beginning a Ph.D., he worked as a movie critic for Newsweek from the late 1950s through the mid-1960s. During this time, he published his first book of poetry, Suits for the Dead. His first novel, Rochelle, or Virtue Rewarded, was published in 1966. He has written about 100 works of fiction, poetry, and poetry and drama in translation including Alice at 80, The Cock Book, Falling from Silence: Poems, The Latin Odes of Jean Dorat, Milton's Latin Poems, and Three Greenlandic Poets. He also writes under the names David Benjamin, Henry Lazarus, Lynn Meyer, and Henry Sutton. As Henry Sutton, he has written less "literary" works that have sold well such as The Exhibitionist and The Sacrifice: A Novel of the Occult.