Willobie His Avisa


Avisa "The Bird Not Seen"

Orlando Furioso

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Orlando Furioso
John Harrington in 1592 completed his risqu� and non-literal translation of Ariosto's Orlando Furioso . It is a work that the author of Willobie his Avisa is definitely familiar with and has been influenced by, because in the poem "The victory of English Chastity" he uses the central character from Orlando Furioso - Rogero to act as the judge to decide whether Penelope or Avisa is a chaste woman. He judges against Penelope. Harrington was unusual amongst Elizabethan writers in that he was a critic of Philip Sidney's writings. It is interesting to note that there is an episode in Orlando Furioso where the main character Rogero is seduced by the beautiful and evil sorceress Alcina . It is noted that Alcina is described as having golden hair and black eyes. This is exactly the same physical appearance that Penelope Rich had in real life . Harrington also calls Alcina "that lascivious rich dame" (Harrington knew Penelope Rich and was known to pun on her surname) we need to wonder if Harrington was lampooning Sidney 's excessive idealization of Penelope Rich with this passage. We also note the similarity of the names Alcina and Avisa. In Orlando Furioso besotted Rogero was only able to see Alcina in her true light after he placed a magic ring on his finger. I am certain the author of Willobie his Avisa was familiar with this passage and is alluding to it and this is why he has introduced Rogero as the judge . Because Rogero had the ability to see Alcina AND Penelope for what they truly were.
Posted on October 27, 2010 Full Size| Slideshow