Shakespeare and Italy: Marrapodi

Dr. Michael Delahoyde
Washington State University

Shakespeare’s Italy

Marrapodi, Michele, A.J. Hoenselaars, Marcello Cappuzzo, and L. Falzon Santucci, eds. Shakespeare’s Italy: Functions of Italian Locations in Renaissance Drama. Rev. ed. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997.

Hoenselaars, A.J. “Italy Staged in English Renaissance Drama.” In Marrapodi. 30-48.

“G.K. Hunter initiated a novel and indeed fruitful approach to the dramatic literature of Italy by arguing that Italy was not important to the dramatists as a place and that ‘English folly and Italian vice are in this period only complementary images to express a single vision of the human state.’ Following his allegations, the Italian plays increasingly came to be read as metaphors of England” (30).

Levin, Harry. “Shakespeare’s Italians.” In Marrapodi. 17-29.

“After all, the Elizabethans reserved their deepest scorn for their own compatriots who had been corrupted by travel abroad, and this attitude could best be summed up in their Italianized proverb: ‘Inglese italianato รจ un diavolo incarnato’ (18).

“not because he travelled there — he hadn’t” (28).

Locatelli, Angela. “The Fictional World of Romeo and Juliet: Cultural Connotations of an Italian Setting.” In Marrapodi. 69-84.

“Shakespeare builds the myth of London by borrowing the history and the mythology of Venice, Verona, Mantua and other foreign cities. Significantly he disregards relevant ‘facts’ like the conspicuous relationship between Mantua of the Gonzaga and the English court, because fiction is all he needs to empower both his tale and the city it celebrates,
Moreover, he ‘describes’ Verona but he ‘means’ Stratford or London. I would also suggest that every setting, no matter how distant and exotic, is meant as analogous (whether a similarity or opposition is created) to London….
In Romeo and Juliet the dramatist writes about Verona but signals to his audience that London is the implied referent” (71).

“Speculation as to Shakespeare’s actual visit to Mantua in 1593, with the Earl of Southampton, is still inconclusive, as well as the actual sight of Giulio Romano’s famous frescos there” (79).

“‘the common love of horses’ strengthened the ties between Henry VIII and Francesco and Federico Gonzaga. How could Shakespeare simply ignore this, had he been there?” (80).

Marrapodi, Michele. Introduction. In Marrapodi. 1-13.

“Shakespeare’s treatment of locality was in most cases too different from conventional practice to please Jonson’s sense of verisimilitude, as well as his general observance of classical rules” (1).

Mullini, Roberta. “Streets, Squares, and Courts: Venice as a Stage in Shakespeare and Ben Jonson.” In Marrapodi. 158-170.

“Other Italian places were chosen by playwrights both to distantiate the events of their plays from local English problems (and avoid censorship by doing so), and to reproduce a stereotyped idea of Italy as the land of corrupt power and lost glory” (163).

Pfister, Manfred. “Shakespeare and Italy, or, The Law of Diminishing Returns.” In Marrapodi. 295-303.

“one should speak of — at least — two Elizabethan images of Italy co-existing and confronting one another. One image is that of the humanists, an image of Italy as the original home of classical antiquity and the cradle of a rich and sophisticated Renaissance culture; an Italy of ancient monuments and of libraries and art collections, of academies and universities, in which a new discourse about the dignity and the infinite possibilities of man is evolved from ancient philosophy and literature; an Italy of villas and courts, where social life and self-fashioning are refined into the elaborate rituals of cortesia and sprezzatura. The other image is that of militant Protestantism, in which Italy appears as the seat of the Papal Whore of Babylon, whose poisonous influence breeds idolatry and atheism, a decadence of the senses and the most sophisticated vices, Machiavellian policy and devilish crimes” (298).

Salingar, Leo. “The Idea of Venice in Shakespeare and Ben Jonson.” In Marrapodi. 171-184.

“Shakespeare and Jonson, however, make little or no dramatic use of the city’s reputation for visual splendour. They concentrate rather on the idea of Venice as an aristocratic republic and cosmopolitan centre of capitalism, with her exceptional freedom for strangers and her exceptional attraction for travellers in search of sophistication” (173).

Italian Bibliography