Nordic Journal of Renaissance Studies 16 • 2019

Pia Schwarz Lausten
Saracens and Turks in Ariosto's Orlando Furioso: Sheer Imagination or Allusions to Reality?

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Ariosto critics usually underscored a positive and respectful rendition of the Muslim enemy, interpreting Orlando Furioso as representing an openminded and modern attitude towards Islam and Muslims in general, yet the presentation in the poem of the conflicts between Christians and Muslims does articulate a critical, albeit nuanced attitude towards Muslims. Interpretations should take the context into account: Italy's geo-political situation vis-à-vis the Ottoman expansion – particularly in the Balkans, historical events and the huge amount of humanistic and historiographical writings from the first decades of the 16th century in which we find a similar complexity in the attitude towards the Turks.