Venice: F. Valgrisi and N. Moretti, 1603. Early Printing. Hardcover. Large octavo (7" x 10") bound in early full vellum,  654  pages. The complete and corrected ORLANDO FURIOSO, with Ruscelli's dedication to the Duke of Ferrara dated 1556 and an account of the life of Ariosto by Battista Pigna. Illustrated with an engraved title page, 51 full-page woodcuts, ornamental headpieces, and initial letters. The woodcuts, within decorative borders, are after the designs of Dossa Dossi, the Ferrarese painter, and are printed from the blocks of the first Valgrisi quarto editon of 1556. Some of the impressions are weak, but most are quite presentable. Trimmed at the top close to the text and plate lines, affecting one line of text in the dedication; other margins quite adequate. Vellum soiled. Very Good or better. Item #004548
First published in 1516, this classic Italian romantic epic influenced many later works including Spenser's THE FAERIE QUEENE and Shakespeare's MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. The action takes place against the background of the war between Charlemagne and his Christian paladins and the Saracen army which is attempting to invade Europe. However, Ariosto has little concern for historical or geographical accuracy, and the poem wanders at will from Japan to the Hebrides, as well as including many fantastical and magical elements, such as a trip to the moon and an array of fantastical creatures including a gigantic sea monster called the orc and the hippogriff. The poem grew in popularity as well in size after Ariosto's death, increasing from 40 to 46 cantos in 1532 and finally to the finished form of 51 cantos.