Knots of Desire: Female Homoeroticism in Orlando furioso 25

  • Mary-Michelle DeCoste
Part of the Italian and Italian American Studies book series (IIAS)


In the final episode of Matteo Maria Boiardo’s Orlando innamorato, the maiden warrior Bradamante finds herself in a tricky situation. Dressed in her armor and suffering from a head wound for the treatment of which her hair was shorn, Bradamante stops to rest along the bank of a stream, where she is spotted by the beautiful Fiordispina, out with a hunting party. Fiordispina takes Bradamante for a man and immediately falls in love with her. When Bradamante wakes up, she realizes from the look on Fiordispina’s face what has happened, and she says to herself: “ ‘Qualche una mal contenta / Serà de noi e ingannata alla vista / Ché gratugia a gratugia poco acquista’ ” (–8).1 (“One of us won’t be happy! She’s / Deceived by what she sees: small gain / Comes when grates grate on grates, not cheese!”) Boiardo’s epic ends with the two women at this impasse: “Però vi lascio in questo vano amore / De Fiordispina ardente a poco a poco / Un’altra fiata, se mi fia concesso, / Raccontarovi il tutto per espresso” (–8). (So I will leave this hopeless love / Of simmering Fiordispina. / Some other time, if God permits, / I’ll tell you all there is to this.)


Filial Obligation Male Organ Subversive Potential Italian Literature Final Episode 
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  1. 2.
    For descriptions of the different editions and continuations of the Innamorato, see Neil Harris, Bibliografia dell’Orlando Innamorato, vol. 2 (Ferrara: Franco Cosimo Panini, 1991).Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    See Pio Rajna, Le fonti dell’Orlando Furioso (Firenze: Sansoni, 1900), pp. 368–69.Google Scholar
  3. 11.
    See Elissa Weaver, “Letture dell’intreccio dell’ Orlando Furioso: il caso delle tre pazzie d’amore,” Strumenti Critici 34 (1977), pp. 384–406 and, in particular, p. 384: “L’intreccio dell’Orlando Furioso attua una consapevole valorizzazione delle possibilità significative dell’ entrelacement, tecnica ereditata dalla tradizione cavalleresca italiana e da quella francese più antica, che interrompe e divide sequenze di narrazione per collegarle a un livello associativo; episodi vengono approfonditi o complicati per analogie implicite con altri episodi. … Quando il lettore ha apprezzato il singolo episodio, prescindendo dalla tecnica dell’ entrelacement, è invitato a notare le risonanze di quell’episodio in altri prossimi o simili (per struttura, per tema, o per linguaggio) e di conseguenza i significati aumentano, si complicano, si completano.” (“The plot of the Orlando Furioso makes conscious use of the signifying possibilities of entrelacement, a technique handed down from the Italian—and before that French—chivalric tradition that interrupts and divides narrative sequences in order to link them back up on an associative level. Episodes are enriched and complicated through implicit analogy with other episodes. … Once the reader has grasped a single episode, he or she is invited to take note of the ways in which the episode resonates with others near it or like it in structure, theme, or language and as a result meanings multiply as they complicate and complete one another”; trans. Cestaro).Google Scholar

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© Gary P. Cestaro 2004

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  • Mary-Michelle DeCoste

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