chapter  7
20 Pages

Networks of Belonging: Interaction, Participation and Consumption of Mediatised Content


Somewhere around 1515, an Italian poet called Ludovico Ariosto published what would become one of the masterpieces of European literature, Orlando the Furious . The novel narrates in a nonlinear fashion the adventures and failures of a knight called Orlando who has gone insane out of love for his sweetheart, Angelica. The plot is set against the background of the medieval wars between Charles Magne and the Arab warriors who had invaded France. Unlike so many others from that period, the work of Ariosto is more than a simple novel of chivalry. Ariosto marvellously mixes elements of mythology with classical references, while creating a unique poem that went on to infl uence European literature for many centuries. One of the most important aspects of Ariosto’s work is his ability to use, in an original way, the Italian language that was at the time just starting to assume a clear pattern. In doing so, Ariosto made a considerable contribution to the distribution of his work amongst the more cultivated members of Italian and European nobility, but, above all, he created a set of references that became part of the common heritage, while at the same time helping Italians of the day to defi ne who they were. Orlando’s feat of narration helped readers throughout history create a sense of belonging to a specifi c cultural and linguistic universe, while at the same time proving to be an example of the specifi c set of cultural artefacts to which it belongs. Ariosto’s work shows how individual and collective entities of the period were shaped by new political and cultural confi gurations that were only then starting to acquire a clear form that could mould one’s sense of belonging.