The Shakespeare Guide to Italy: Retracing the Bard's Unknown Travels

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This Baedeker to the "Italian plays," an eccentric labor of love by an attorney who works like crazy to find hidden truths via minute analyses of texts, has at its core the long-accepted scholarly belief that Shakespeare never traveled, certainly not extensively, through Continental Europe and Italy. From here, the book veers into murkier territory. For Roe (who died last year), it is the earl of Oxford who made all the trips, accounting for details and an intimate erudition regarding the Mediterranean setting of 10 of the plays attributed to Shakespeare. Thus, many of the so-called topographic blunders claimed by scholars in The Two Gentlemen of Verona are resolved through a better understanding of a long-vanished canal system; Romeo and Juliet details aspects of settings (types of trees, Juliet's window, and other facts) that come from no surviving source that a nontraveler could have accessed; Prospero's island in The Tempest is positively identified by geologic configurations as the island of Vulcano off Sicily's northeastern shore. Overall, the title is misleading: Shakespeare of Stratford turns out to be no guide at all. Considerable learning and ingenuity in working through the details of location and character are offset by an odd delusion, which, in fairness, the author shares with many serious fans, that the Bard was not Shakespeare of Stratford, though Roe only slyly implies this belief. 180 color and b&w photos; maps. (Nov. 8)
Booklist
“An exceptionally entertaining, enlightening, and handsome companion for a thrillingly literate Italian sojourn.”
Sir - Derek Jacobi
"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."
Michael York
“This is a revolutionary and revelatory book, part thrilling detective story and part sober scholarly treatise.”
Doctor - William Leahy
"This represents a hugely significant intervention in the study of Shakespeare and his dramatic works."
Mark Rylance
“Unless someone can prove him wrong, anyone who claims to have written the plays of Shakespeare needs to show some Italian travel documents.”
Sir Derek Jacobi
“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.”
Dr. William Leahy
“This represents a hugely significant intervention in the study of Shakespeare and his dramatic works.”
Library Journal
For this literary journey through Shakespeare's ten plays set in Italy, Roe, an English and history scholar and an attorney who died in 2010, explored the places that inspired many of Shakespeare's classics and presents a solid argument that Shakespeare was well traveled. Roe spent over 20 years traveling throughout Italy with Shakespeare plays in hand. The thrill of discovery he felt throughout his quest leaps off the page and makes for an accessible read. The connections he draws among the plays and locales are backed up with pictures, maps, literary references, and well-documented arguments. Particularly striking is Roe's argument that A Midsummer Night's Dream is not set in Greece, as traditionally accepted, but in a small town in Italy. VERDICT 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.—Katie Lawrence, Chicago
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062074263
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/8/2011
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 629,876
  • Product dimensions: 6.42 (w) x 9.72 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

In addition to executing a private legal practice for more than forty years, Richard Paul Roe undertook a lifelong study of Shakespeare’s Italian Plays. A recipient of degrees in English literature and European history from the University of California at Berkeley, as well as a juris doctor summa cum laude from the Southwestern University School of Law, he lived in Pasadena, California, until his death in 2010.

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Table of Contents

List of Maps vii

Acknowledgments ix

Foreword Hilary Roe Metternich xi

Introduction Daniel L Wright xiii

Preface 1

Chapter 1 Romeo and Juliet "Devoted Love in Verona" 7

Chapter 2 The Two Gentlemen of Verona—Part 1"Sailing to Milan" 35

Chapter 3 The Two Gentlemen of Verona—Part 2"Milan: Arrivals and Departures" 63

Chapter 4 The Taming of the Shrew "Pisa to Padua" 87

Chapter 5 The Merchant of Venice—Part 1"Venice: the City and the Empire" 115

Chapter 6 The Merchant of Venice—Part 2 "Venice: Trouble and Trial" 141

Chapter 7 Othello"Strangers and Streets, Swords and Shoes" 159

Chapter 8 A Midsummer Night's Dream "Midsummer in Sabbioneta' 179

Chapter 9 All's Well That Ends Well "France and Florence" 189

Chapter 10 Much Ado About Nothing "Misfortune in Messina" 217

Chapter 11 The Winter's Tale "A Cruel Notion Resolved" 245

Chapter 12 TheTempest"Island of Wind and Fire" 265

Epilogue 297

Biblogarphy 299

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