Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Shakespeare in Italy?

A Mr. Rob Edwards from across the pond has sent me a missive regarding the subject of how Shakespeare acquired his familiarity with Italy, upon which I posted last month. It includes a reference to his father's short article on the subject, an interesting read. Aelwyn Edwards writes that the young William, upon the rather unexpected birth of his twins, went to Northern Italy as a merchant's agent from London as a way to provide for his newly-enlarged family.

There is a great deal of interest and speculation surrounding the Bard and Italy. An Italian scholar, one Martino Iuvara, a Sicilian, maintains that our Will was actually not a Shakespeare at all but a fellow Sicilian by the name of Crollalanza, which in fact means "shake spear" in Italian. The University of Dallas, of all places, holds a summer course on the subject in Italy. But I must hold to my original idea that the great, the greatest, poet, knew all this because he was a genius and as such did not need the experience others need in order to acquire knowledge. I have said as much regarding Nathaniel Hawthorne's eerie familiarity with Padua (where I lived many years) as shown in the famous story, "Rappaccini's daughter." And we know that Hawthorne had never been to Italy at the time of the story's composition. Further, the American writer also came from a very provincial, limited background (Salem, Massachusetts, and Maine, in the early nineteenth century). But this does not mean that Edwards' hypothesis does not bear looking into. I just think that the above explanation is sufficient.

In the photo, Palazzo Contarini-Fasan in Venice, also known as Desdemona's house.