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The Shakespeare Guide to Italy: Retracing the Bard's Unknown Travels Paperback – November 8, 2011
This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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“A fascinating look at a largely untouched aspect of Shakespeare’s identity and influences. Recommended for Shakespeare enthusiasts and scholars as well as travelers looking for a new perspective, this is also particularly intriguing as a companion to specific plays.” (Library Journal (starred review))
“An exceptionally entertaining, enlightening, and handsome companion for a thrillingly literate Italian sojourn.” (Booklist)
“Exciting, original, and convincing....This book is essential reading for all concerned with who really wrote the works of Shakespeare. A thrilling journey of discovery.” (Sir Derek Jacobi)
“This is a revolutionary and revelatory book, part thrilling detective story and part sober scholarly treatise.” (Michael York, Shakespearean actor of stage and screen and co-author of A Shakespearean Actor Prepares)
“This represents a hugely significant intervention in the study of Shakespeare and his dramatic works.” (Dr. William Leahy, Head of the School of Arts, Shakespeare Authorship Studies, Brunel University)
“Unless someone can prove him wrong, anyone who claims to have written the plays of Shakespeare needs to show some Italian travel documents.” (Mark Rylance, Founding Artistic Director, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, London)
From the Back Cover
Richard Paul Roe spent more than twenty years traveling the length and breadth of Italy on a literary quest of unparalleled significance.
Using the text from Shakespeare’s ten “Italian Plays” as his only compass, Roe determined the exact locations of nearly every scene in Romeo and Juliet, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Merchant of Venice, Much Ado about Nothing, The Tempest, and the remaining dramas set in Italy. His chronicle of travel, analysis, and discovery paints with unprecedented clarity a picture of what the Bard must have experienced before penning his plays.
Equal parts literary detective story and vivid travelogue—containing copious annotations and more than 150 maps, photographs, and paintings—The Shakespeare Guide to Italy is a unique, compelling, and deeply provocative journey that will forever change our understanding of how to read the Bard . . . and irrevocably alter our vision of who William Shakespeare really was.
Top customer reviews
He first came upon eternal Italy as a very young man on Army-Air-Force assignment to attack the Axis's oil refineries in Romania during World War II. The mortality rate was 80-90%. He survived. I wondered if the journey back to Italy was a metaphor in him of transcending time, to stand once more among lasting things.
He saw the same places, buildings, rivers, voyage routes, and neighborhoods meticulously described by the author of the Shakespeare canon. They were still there. He made a study of the scattered geographical notes, off-hand descriptions, ships' names, abandoned wells, little churches, impresa, embedded in the Italian plays, which to most of us are an unlikely testament. Using old maps and paintings he re-constructed the topography of a dozen cities. This book is as much an aesthetic as a literary study, charmingly combined.
The journey embodied an unverbalized faith that 'Shakespeare' did not fake fanciful lands and places-- he honored his travels on the earth as he did his songs and suffering, to express their truth.
Roe's lasting contribution to scholarship will be that he proved 'Shakespeare' did not commit geographical or cultural error in the Mediterranean plays. Instead, he was uncannily accurate. The prodigious implication of this, which Roe never stated, not being a big talker, is that our entire conception of who 'Shakespeare' was must now change. The man from Stratford never left England. We agree on that. The author went to Italy and knew it well.
Sycamore trees stand west of the city walls in Verona, mentioned in Romeo and Juliet. The grove of trees barely in sight beyond the Porta Palio has been reduced to copses, it is true, but they are there. You can see them through the arch. Midsummer Night's Dream had a neighborhood called 'Little Athens'. It still exists in Sabbioneta, not Greece. Shall we sail from Verona to Milan, as in Two Gentlemen of Verona? Laughable?--today maybe it is--but by traveling overland to Ostiglia, they did it routinely, via the river Adda and canals. What about visiting the Bohemian coastline, near Trieste? Impossible now, but then Bohemia had thirty miles of access to the Gulf of Venice. Ben Jonson said 'Shakespeare' got it wrong. Jonson was wrong. He never left Western Europe. The author did.
One finds the book full of long-buried gems, not only referenced in the works of Shakespeare and the medieval past, but also sustained in native knowledge, freely shared by the people Roe met as he searched back and forth in time. Contextual knowledge literally returns to life.
Roe's search was buoyed by a certain relentless laconic pride. This man was a warrior. He didn't give up. The breadth of his spirit is expressed perhaps by a brief passage about how he searched for and found 'Shakespeare':
"This is the playwright who is said to be ignorant of Italy. But truth is revealed in trifles, not in the great words that sweep. Truth hides in the words that are overlooked--the dull words, odd words, the words that are dismissed as cluttering, inconsequential, irrelevant. These are the words, not the soaring ones, that tell what a person knows. But one must listen."
There are many ghosts in Italy,'Shakespeare's and Roe's among them.
Most highly recommended.
Mr. Roe's fascinating details and meticulous research have made a great contribution to truth-seekers all over the globe.
Most recent customer reviews
In Germany, a great and famous Earl
Of England; the most goodly fashioned man
I ever saw: from head to foot in form
Rare and...Read more
Alas, poor William.