The protection of the Furioso: Ariosto and the Italian privileges system
Keywords:Ludovico Ariosto, Orlando Furioso, privileges, Venice, minor works
First best seller of Italian literature, the Orlando Furioso by Ludovico Ariosto was printed at Ferrara in three editions under the same author’s superintendence (1516, 1521, 1532). The poet showed great resourcefulness in organizing the whole operation by himself: he purchased the paper, took charge of sales, and obtained privileges to protect the book from unauthorized reproduction, and to preserve his text in its integrity. Therefore, he incurred the time and expense of seeking privileges from several jurisdictions, from the Pope, the Emperor, Venice, Milan, Ferrara, Genoa, and other potentates. Despite this, the poem was reprinted many times, especially by Venetian printers that decreed its unstoppable rise. In addition, the Ariosto death (1533) nullified all privileges he had obtained with great difficulty, and led his heirs to try to remedy the situation by asking for privileges which protected the interests of the family. In particular, Ariosto’s heirs obtained (1535) from the Venetian Senate a privilege for the publication of the poet’s unpublished minor works.
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