Michael Delahoyde, PhD

Professor of English

Shakespeare and Italy: Roe

Dr. Michael Delahoyde
Washington State University

Shakespeare and Italy:

Anderson, Mark K. “Richard Roe on Shakespeare in Italy.” Shakespeare Matters 1.4 (Summer 2002): 24-25, 28.

Promised in 2002 was Richard Roe ‘s forthcoming book, Shakespeare in Italy: Secret of the Centuries would be out in 2004 at the latest. But apparently this project has stagnated since this interview, which is a tragedy. Roe could be the Heinrich Schliemann of Shakespeare studies. Obscure details within the canonical plays reveal a Shakespeare who never makes a mistake, despite numerous claims to the contrary: “Never. None. They [the critics] are the ones who are ignorant,in every instance. I’ve catalogued all the critiques from the 19th and 20th centuries–and all they’re doing today on the Internet is repeating the same old stories. On all occasions, the whole treatment of Shakespeare’s [ignorance] of Italy is wrong” (25).

Palermo in Sicily in The Winter’s Tale, sycamores at the west city wall of Verona in Romeo and Juliet, Florentine topography in All’s Well That Ends Well, a Pisa pun in The Taming of the Shrew, and countless other precise details have been discovered by Roe. Other than the Rialto in The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare never refers to the tourist attractions: “He doesn’t write a travelogue. In each place, he is describing something so obscure, off the wall, peculiar that a tourist would not even pay any attention to it. He’s giving you what I have come to believe is his personal, direct knowledge of his experiences in Italy” (25). “And every Italian event alluded to in the plays that I’ve found occurred prior to 1580” (28).

Italian Bibliography