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Thread: Was Shakespeare Italian and born in Italy?

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    Thumbs down Was Shakespeare Italian and born in Italy?

    Hello everybody, I liked studying Shakespeare in highschool and college, and watching plays on stage and on TV. I like England and everything English, rabbits, horses, dogs, cats, people, the countryside, but I have yet to actually go to England for vacation. It kind of burst my bubble when I was surprised to learn that Shakespeare was Italian, according to "Retired Sicilian professor Martino Iuvara claims that Shakespeare was, in fact, not English at all, but Italian. His conclusion is drawn from research carried out from 1925 to 1950 by two professors at Palermo University. Iuvara posits that Shakespeare was born not in Stratford in April 1564, as is commonly believed, but actually was born in Messina as Michelangelo Florio Crollalanza. His parents were not John Shakespeare and Mary Arden, but were Giovanni Florio, a doctor, and Guglielma Crollalanza, a Sicilian noblewoman. The family supposedly fled Italy during the Holy Inquisition and moved to London. It was in London that Michelangelo Florio Crollalanza decided to change his name to its English equivalent. Crollalanza apparently translates literally as 'Shakespeare'. Iuvara goes on to claim that Shakespeare studied abroad and was educated by Franciscan monks who taught him Latin, Greek, and history." I don't know what to do now. My knickers are in a twist.

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    Worthless Hack Zippy's Avatar
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    I suppose it's a testament to Shakespeare's enduring popularity that every country wants to claim him for his own!
    "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." Anais Nin.

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    Banned Turk's Avatar
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    I never heard this theory. But i've read some plagiarism accusations about W. Shakespeare. According to this theory he plagiarised some works of some İtalian poet's who never became famous.

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    In Arden with a book
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    That's a very interesting arguement, though I don't find it a particularly plausible one. First of all, I'm not familiar with Prof. Iuvara, but he has probably been studying literature for much longer than I have. However, there are a few inconsistencies I'd like to point out.
    There was definately a William Shakespeare born in Stratford that April. John Shakespeare's son, William, was christened and thereby documented in the town records. Of course, that still leaves the question of whether that particular Will Shakespeare wrote the famous plays, which many people have been debating for many years.
    Secondly, from an analytical point of view, Shakespeare's plays are pretty darned English. His use of the language, his ability to capture the English rhythms within the structure of blank verse, for example, suggests that it was his first language. His plays contain many patriotic and political themes. His sources include English history and mythology, from the recent history of the Wars of the Roses to the ancient stories found in Geoffrey of Monmouth's work. The cultural references, from ballads to folk tales to food, all speak long time residence in England, and looking at the plays, Shakespeare could have easily been educated in a Stratford grammar school.
    That is not to say that he did not get a continental education as well, as Iuvara suggests. His knowledge of European culture and stories, and his use of locations like Venice and Verona, suggest that he did at least travel abroad. There are several theories explaining why, including that he was a mercenary for a time, and that he left England because of religious issues (which is a whole other debate, right there).
    So while I would love to hear more about the Italian theory, I wouldn't get your knickers too twisted just yet, Angora.

    On Turk's comment about plagiarism--ah. Well, I'm neither denying that Shakespeare used/borrowed/stole, if you will, from many contemporary sources, or defending plagiarism in any way, but in Will's defence, please consider the time. Intellectual property wasn't defended very strictly. Poets and playwrights borrowed freely from one another. I can't think of very many plays of Shakespeare's, Marlowe's, or any one else of the time that are strictly 'original' as we would think of it today. Back then, the virtue lay not in where you got the idea, but with what you did with it.

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    Registered Usher vili's Avatar
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    I wouldn't personally pay any particular attention to theories like the one by Martino Iuvara. They come and go, and would seem to be largely motivated by the fact that Shakespearean criticism is one of the few areas of literary criticism where you can actually make money. Therefore, all sorts of weird theories are developed just in order to get things to print. While I don't mean to say that there is no chance of Shakespeare having been Italian, I still think the odds are about the same Shakespeare having been Chinese. Of course, if more substantial proofs can be presented, then the issue is different. But I doubt they ever will.

    To add to Rosalind's comments regarding Turk's point about Shakespeare's "plagiarism", the whole idea of artistic copyright was only really developed in the early 18th century. There are only two Shakespeare plays for which we don't know the sources: A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Tempest. All the others are "borrowed" from elsewhere. Yet, we don't love Shakespeare so much for his stories as for his delivery.

    As for his poetry, he like most of his contemporaries were much in debt to the Italians and Petrarch in particular, whose poetic conventions they followed (although through appropriating them into the English language and tradition). Yet, again, calling it "plagiarism" would not be entirely accurate.

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    Some contribution from Italy...

    Hello everyone,

    I am an Italian (please apologize in advance for any mistype or wrong spelling :-) living in the UK and I would like to contribute to the "querelle" about the origins of Shakespeare. I knew already about some allegations that he was Sicilian, but I never believed that. Obviously, such a personality would be a pride for every country.

    However, I recently saw a programme on Italian TV about S. that really shocked me! If you are interested browse the web searching for an Italian TV show called "Voyager" on our national TV RAI.

    Well, this is a resume' of what they said:
    there was a Sicilian merchant from Messina named Florio and his son moved at some point to England where his mother Guglielma Crollalanza had relatives. In fact Guglielma's brother married and English women and settled in Stratford Upon Avon. Florio and his family were probably Sicilian Jews (or with some Jewish blood) and escaped from persecutions during the counter-reformation.
    Before moving to England Florio's son, Michelagnolo Florio, was sent to study in Padova (a the time Republic of Venice). In Padova he had among his teachers Galileo Galilei and Girodano Bruno. He settled in a small town in Valtellina region (near Milan) and occupied a home called "Ca' d'Otello" (Otello's house, the previous owner's name). He fell in love with a local noble girl, and her father sent her to Verona because he did not want her to marry a person of lower social status. There she was under "protection" of a local noble man, and she killed herself jumping down from a tower because the protector's attentions became too... close. Michelagnolo, on his way to Verona to reach her, was shocked by the news and left the country. He decided to move to England because he had some relatives there. In particular there was a cousin whose family name was "Shakespeare" (translation of Crollalanza: "Crolla"=shake, "Lanza"=spear), son of his uncle, who "Anglicisez" his name. This cousin was not very cultivated, as he left school in Stratford at the age of 10, and moved to London, where he worked as a talented actor.
    According to this study, Michelagnolo, a very cultivated man, who travelled and knew several languages, earned his living writing theatre pieces. His written English was perfect, but the accent never allowed him to play on stage. At some point London was affected by a plague, and his cousin died. So Florio decided to clear his old identity (he was persecuted as a Jew) and took over his cousin'g name "Shakespeare", and changed his name into William, as he loved his mother Gulielma (feminine version of William in Italian). According to this study, this is why S. retires from stage at some point; simply because the guy with the new identity could not play on stage due to his accent, and he just kept writing until he passed away...

    Now, these allegations looked very convincing, but of course there is no evidence.

    Ciao a tutti!

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    Registered User kelby_lake's Avatar
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    Sounds like one of Shakey's plays lol

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    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    This thread topic appeared, was it 3-4 months ago? & brought down on it the total wrath of the Lit Net Shakespeare fundamentalists. It followed closely on the heels of the Harry Potter debate which served as an hor d'ouvre for the main encounter Unless you are prepared for a long battle, dont go there!

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    Shakespearean xman's Avatar
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    *begins to sharpen his teeth*
    He was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher... or, as his wife would have it, an idiot. ~ Douglas Adams

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    Registered User Beewulf's Avatar
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    Angry Where's the Birth Certificate?!

    THERE IS PROOF THAT MAN CALLED "SHAKESPEARE" AKA, "BARRY SHAKESPEAREO, AKA "USURPER" WAS BORN IN KENYA, in the coutnry of Africa.

    If Shakespeare wasn't born in Kenya, than lets see his birth certificate, the LONG FORM.

    it's been 500 years. why still no birth certificate????????

    Why, if "Shakespeare" has nothign to hid has he spend MILLIONS$$$ TO prevent truth from being come out????

    Shak. used 39 idfferent social security numbers when he lived in london!!!

    Shakespeare defintely not qualified to be GDIEL (Greatest Dramatist in English Language). If court system wont do something, then WE THE PEOPLE must take action before the Usurper takes away our freedom to arm bears and go to bear baitings.

    go to my website, www.truthaboutshakespeare.com for all the FACTS!

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    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    "A loose sally of the mind, an irregular indigested piece; not a regular and orderly composition"
    Samuel Johnson.

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    Shakespearean xman's Avatar
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    Beewulf, either you've been hacked or you are one.
    He was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher... or, as his wife would have it, an idiot. ~ Douglas Adams

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    Registered User Beewulf's Avatar
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    Hacky-dee-sacked

    Dear Xman,

    I can't help it! Reading these posts about Shakespeare's supposed Italian origins leads me to believe that the same conspiratorial bent driving the birther movement in the U.S. also motivates a certain type of Shakespeare enthusiast. Ultimately, nonsense drives me nutty. I've fallen from rational humanists to wild-eyed Dadist. The good thing? Now I get to use emoticons! Da, da, da!

  14. #14
    Drama Queen
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    Everybody knows Shakespeare was born on Mars

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    While I cannot prove that Shakespeare was English, you really have to look at what is the most accepted history, and in most cases, this history is true. Why does there always have to be a conspiracy?

    I live very close to Stratford-upon-Avon, and have visited the room where Shakespeare was born. All the evidence suggests that he was born in Stratford and then moved to London.

    I don't care what nationality he was, I don't care if he didn't even write the plays.... all I know is that *someone* extremely talented wrote "Shakespeare" and they are now dust.

    The real Shakespeare lives in the words of his plays, of which we are very lucky to have experienced. True immortality forever in words.

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