Serious Play: Desire and Authority in the Poetry of Ovid, Chaucer, and Ariosto

Kobo ebook | October 6, 2010

byRobert Hanning

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Comic poets are inspired best by the bittersweet nature of their art-the thrill of skewering the world's power elite while nevertheless being dependent on their support. Ovid, Chaucer, and Ariosto were extremely attuned to the dynamics of this relationship, with Ovid suffering most from his comedic missteps. Their audacity and acute insight are the very elements that make their work so appealing centuries after their subjects have stumbled off the stage.

Through a careful and imaginative analysis of Ovid's amatory poetry, Chaucer's dream poems and excerpts from the Canterbury Tales, and Ariosto's epic Orlando Furioso, Robert W. Hanning identifies the comic mastery that turns these poets' trenchant critique into such amusing, enlightening, and disturbing fantasy. This technique, termed serio ludere, or serious play, by Renaissance theorists, is especially compelling when studied through these writers and their politically powerful audiences. Ovid, Chaucer, and Ariosto are not often studied together, but each lived in exciting times (Augustan Rome, late-medieval London, and high-Renaissance Italy, respectively), and their unique position as outsider-insiders afforded them the freedom to speak comedic truth to power. These poets also rebelled against the "authority" of poetic influence in their work, remaking literary convention while, at the same time, challenging political power.

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Comic poets are inspired best by the bittersweet nature of their art-the thrill of skewering the world's power elite while nevertheless being dependent on their support. Ovid, Chaucer, and Ariosto were extremely attuned to the dynamics of this relationship, with Ovid suffering most from his comedic missteps. Their audacity and acute in...

Robert W. Hanning, a native of New York City, taught medieval and Renaissance literature at Columbia University for forty-five years before his retirement in 2006. He has also taught and lectured on issues of "race," ethnicity, and immigration in America. His books include The Vision of History in Early Britain, The Individual in Tw...

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Kobo ebook|Mar 1 2006

$5.09 online$6.56list price(save 22%)
Format:Kobo ebookPublished:October 6, 2010Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231526393

ISBN - 13:9780231526395

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Ovid's Amatory Poetry: Rome in a Comic Mirror
2. Chaucer: Dealing with the Authorities; Or, Twisting the Nose That Feeds You
3. Ariosto's Orlando Furioso: Confusion Multiply Confounded; Or, Astray in the Forest of Desire
In Conclusion (or Inconclusion)
Epilogue
Index

Editorial Reviews

Hanning offers lively appreciations of three major poets whose works speak comic truth to cultural power.