Profile for N. DAVIES > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by N. DAVIES
Top Reviewer Ranking: 138,268
Helpful Votes: 210

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
N. DAVIES (Manchester, England)
(REAL NAME)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3
pixel
The Shakespeare Guide to Italy: Retracing the Bard's Unknown Travels
The Shakespeare Guide to Italy: Retracing the Bard's Unknown Travels
by Richard Paul Roe
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Yet another egregious addition to the discredited authorship debate, 26 Aug 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The author's enthusiasm for Shakespeare is admirable but the appalling lack of scholarly rigour used to produce this book is jaw-dropping at virtually every turn of the page.

Roe sets out his stall in the prologue when he says he is merely interested in facts and not what would/could/should have happened and also isn't interested in theories of an alternative author. Yet he then writes a book that disregards the facts, mangles others and would have been half the size it is if he didn't indulge in so much fanciful theorising. He makes ridiculous remarks that Shakespeare was never known to have left his house in all of his 52 years except to do business as a grain merchant - a comment that says far more about Roe than Shakespeare. He goes on to say no letters survive from Shakespeare, alleging he was illiterate. That there are virtually no letters of any playwrights that have survived the 400 years since the English Renaissance, that Shakespeare and his contemporaries plied their trade in London, 90% of which was razed to the ground in the Great Fire of 1666 destroying everything in its wake and that Shakespeare's own home was looted of all its books, desks and letters in 1637 as recorded in the associated court case does not give him food for thought. I contend that Roe was ignorant of these events that are directly responsible for the lack of survival of such perishable materials.

In his 1st chapter one would expect a compelling account of why we should believe Shakespeare visited Italy but it falls flat on its face. He first locates a grove of sycamores that he claims is referred to in Romeo & Juliet, evidence of "intimate and detailed knowledge of Italy". But there is no grove of sycamores, just the odd number to the west and south of the city of this weed of trees that has been regularly cut back so they don't over-run the place. Roe is blissfully ignorant of the fact that the only reason Shakespeare depicts Romeo depressed around Verona in a sycamore grove is as a literary device in Act 1 Scene 1 to emphasise the love-sick theme of the whole play as "sycamore" is a pun on "lovesick", i.e. syc = "sick" and amore = amour, French for "love". Shakespeare uses the same lovesick device in Othello when he has Desdemona singing a love song: "The poor soul sat sighing by a sycamore tree, Sing all a green willow, Her hand on her bosom, her head on her knee, Sing willow, willow, willow, The fresh streams ran by her, and murmur'd her moans; Sing willow, willow, willow; ...etc."

Next, he attempts to locate Juliet's house and finds the tourist trap of Cappello Street. He admits that there is no evidence that R&J ever existed, it is just a story; he admits that this house has no orchard as portrayed in R&J; he admits a balcony was added in 1936 to attract more tourists to the 3rd most popular destination in Italy due to R&J; he admits there is no evidence atall that anyone called Juliet, let alone the Juliet of R&J ever lived there. Then, he proceeds to speak of it as Juliet's house! Next, he hunts for the St Peter's church referred to in the play assuming this will be a challenge. He seems blissfully unaware that St Peter's Basilica in Rome is the seat of the Catholic church, that there are countless St Peter's churches in Italy and that Verona itself has no less than four. Faced with an abundance of St Peter's churches to choose from rather than the challenging hunt he expected he chooses the one that he claims is Juliet's as it is in "her parish", closest to the house he previously dismissed as nothing to do with Juliet. Mind-boggling.

When a local corrects him that a fight scene portrayed in the play wouldn't have happened where set because it was right under the noses of the authorities he doesn't repeat his claim of the playwright having "intimate and detailed knowledge of Italy", he just quietly moves on.

In the 2nd chapter he indulges in battling one of Shakespeare's most egregious mistakes in portraying Verona and Milan as sea ports. Occam's Razor tells us that the simplest solution is the most credible and discourages us from creating unnecessary complexity to explain a problem. The simple explanation is that Shakespeare simply did not know or care that Verona is not a sea port - he was writing for a London audience with the tidal Thames outside of the Globe and dramatising a story to resonate with that audience who equally did not know or care, he was not preoccupied with geographic or maritime accuracy. But Roe embarks on the most tortuous and incredible water-borne journey between those cities imaginable, travelling via rivers (upstream and downstream), canals and locks to get from one city to the other - one half expects him to claim they even travelled through streams and puddles to get there. For chapters he is baffled by what the playwright means by "flood", again blissfully ignorant that the term simply means a river swollen at high tide, enabling large ships to set sail. He claims an obscure Anglo-Saxon meaning for tide meaning "schedule" or "time" that leads him to conclude the tides the playwright refers to are locks in canals and claims locks are operated to schedules, not whenever boats simply need to pass, which is what actually happens. Unable to resolve a 20 km stretch that can not be traversed by water he claims to have found a schematic of canals in that area but fails to demonstrate that they were operational at the time of all the other waterways nor navigable. But Roe's insurmountable problem is that whatever a Heath Robinson of a trip he contrives, Verona is not a sea port as portrayed in the play that shows inarguable evidence that the playwright didn't know or didn't care that it was.

And this goes on in the rest of the book. He claims to have found Shylock's penthouse in the Venetian Jewish Ghetto, the only penthouse there, by using an obscure meaning of penthouse as an apartment on stilts or columns rather than the commonplace English meaning of a top-floor penthouse of which there are countless in Venice, not least in the Jewish Ghetto. He claims Shakespeare had intimate knowledge of St Luke's church at the same time as showing a map from centuries earlier that clearly shows it, meaning Shakespeare needed to travel no further than his desk to know of it. He correctly refers to the Aenied as being one of the sources for The Tempest but deliberately omits its reference to "yellow sand" so requiring Shakespeare to literally stand on Vulcano to know it has "yellow sand". Again, Shakespeare's source has all the content he needed to travel no further than his own desk. When the evidence shows Shakespeare's ignorance of Italy, Roe breathtakingly says Shakespeare was writing for an English audience, not an Italian one, so the errors don't matter.

He then concludes that the Shakespeare canon was written 20 years before scholarly analysis and evidence shows it to have been merely based on a line referring to perfumed gloves and Roe's beloved Earl of Oxford having given Elizabeth a pair in 1576. That perfumed gloves were popular as early as 1560 and that Shakespeare's own father was a glovemaker, literally evades him.

Roe's most appalling crime is reserved for the last chapter. He correctly concedes that the trip that Prospero and Miranda make from Milan to the sea and on to Prospero's island could not happen. This relatively simple trip of "some leagues to sea" as portrayed in The Tempest would instead require a 400km eastward river trip down the Adage and a huge voyage around the east then southern coast of Italy to reach destination. One thinks Roe has finally found that his theorising is balderdash but instead he simply says that the playwright really meant Florence and claims Elizabethan authorities insisted on an edit to the play before publication. Utterly astonishing.

This is the world of the conspiracy theorists, especially the Oxfordians: avoid most facts and sensible explanations; warp the remaining facts; treat Shakespeare unlike everyone else in the world; if the facts don't fit, then bend them, create your own facts from myth.

This is another great addition to the conspirasist's canon: from the silly film "Anonymous" to TJ Looney's "Shakespeare Identified" to Malcolm X believing Shakespeare was actually a French playwright called "Jacques Pierre". All tales full of hot air and myth, told by fools, signifying nothing.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 4, 2014 7:56 PM GMT


The Dirt: Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band
The Dirt: Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band
by Tommy Lee
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Excess all areas and a heartbreaker, 18 July 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Never been a fan of MC nor could I recognise any of their songs but read this to extend my consumption of rock literature and the extensive recommendations here on Amazon. How they have all survived what they indulged in is truly astonishing: every sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll story imaginable? They did it. The chapter on Vince's daughter's death though will break your heart. Heart-wrenching stuff.


The Lodger: Shakespeare on Silver Street
The Lodger: Shakespeare on Silver Street
by Charles Nicholl
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.59

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but padded, 21 Aug 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The book benefits from an analysis of a civil court case that involved Shakespeare as a witness and the associated characters to trace the author's lodgings and the people he knew. It's an intriguing insight into Elizabethan times, where Shakespeare lived, who he associated with. You feel as if you are walking through the very London streets of Shakespeare's times.

Its shortcomings are its tedious descriptions of "tire making", the occupation of his landlord and landlady, and its needless obsession with the prostitution of the time. The "tire making", in particular, is tiresome and of no real relevance to Shakespeare. It's like writing a book on Churchill and finding he lodged with a gardener for a while so using that to justify analysing the internal workings of a lawnmower. Some justification for this is sought by finding any reference to "tire making" in the plays but it smacks of padding out a book that has little substantial material to work with at the start.

A worthwhile buy and read but not the landmark publication some critics have hyped it up to be.


TP-Link TD-W8960N 300Mbps Wireless N ADSL2+ Modem Router for Phone Line Connections
TP-Link TD-W8960N 300Mbps Wireless N ADSL2+ Modem Router for Phone Line Connections
Price: £32.39

5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely superb, 11 Feb 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Bought a Cisco WAG120N router 2 weeks ago (see my separate review) and returned it as an awful product. Did better research then settled on this device from the rave reviews. Absolutly faultless. Signal strength and range at optimum. Speed superb. Setup a piece of cake. Price perfect. Very strongly recommended indeed.


Linksys by Cisco WAG120N Wireless-N Modem Router - 150 mbps  (for ADSL / telephone line connections i.e BT Broadband)
Linksys by Cisco WAG120N Wireless-N Modem Router - 150 mbps (for ADSL / telephone line connections i.e BT Broadband)

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing, 6 Feb 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Sorry to say purchasing this item was an awful experience.

I previously had a Netgear g-wireless router and decided to "upgrade" to an n-wireless one to benefit from better signal, and, more importantly, range. So I bought this and a Cisco n-wireless client adaptor for my PC. I chose Cisco as we have Cisco industrial-strength kit at work so thought I'd go for what I thought is the best in its field. Boy, was I wrong.

Signal strength has gone from 4 bars on my g-wireless to 1-2 on this and the router is just 4 metres away in the next room. Only when I place the router adjacent to the PC do I get a full 5-bar signal. The ports don't work either. Got the latest firmware but no good. Changed the wireless settings to those recommended on various websites to no avail. Researched elsewhere on the web and found the WAG120N is notorious for poor signal range and strength so I've bought a known dud.

Ironic that I can see 4 other wireless networks throughout the neighbourhood at 2-3 bars but I can't get a decent signal off a Cisco n-wireless modem router in the next room in my own home! I've spent over 30 years in IT and have never seen an alleged advancement in technology actually be such a significant jump back.

Amazon's outstanding returns service invoked to see the back of it.


The Longest Cocktail Party: An Insider's Diary of the Beatles, Their Million-dollar Apple Empire and Its Wild Rise and Fall
The Longest Cocktail Party: An Insider's Diary of the Beatles, Their Million-dollar Apple Empire and Its Wild Rise and Fall
by Richard Dilello
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A different perspective, 24 July 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The novelty of this book is the perspective being from that of the Apple House Hippy giving it a fly-on-the-wall appeal with The Beatles and ancillary staff floating in and out of the scenes like bit-part players. You could imagine a play being made from this material.

McCartney comes across as the most productive and dedicated to the Apple ideal by producing by far the greatest number of artistes and contributing by far the greatest volume of material for them - when you consider his contribution to the White Album and Abbey Road during this period too it is quite remarkable. Harrison is next, committing time and effort to the development of Apple stable artistes while Ringo is the affable Beatle who goes out of his way to meet the visiting Lauren Bacall but otherwise is artistically inactive. Lennon is the main offender: launching Apple in New York with much talk of helping other artistes but actually doing nothing for anyone except dressing up as Santa Claus one Xmas and otherwise indulging himself in the Plastic Ono Band and his bagism. His only input is in being deliberately spiteful in insisting that White Trash's version of Golden Slumbers must be released when it's composer McCartney had already decided that a cover of his track should not be released by Apple.

The demise of The Beatles is reported via extracts from The Times. It is remarkable looking back now that Lennon, Harrison and Starr wanted the business entity called The Beatles to continue despite it not functioning or communicating in any effective form for so long - a High Court judge being required to give them a reality check.

Not a great book but a surprisingly worthy addition to the huge forests-worth of material already covering every conceivable aspect of the history of The Beatles.


When Giants Walked the Earth: A Biography Of Led Zeppelin
When Giants Walked the Earth: A Biography Of Led Zeppelin
by Mick Wall
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.69

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hmmmmmm, 24 July 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Another bio of Led Zeppelin has a mountain to climb to add any significant value to the already massive volume of material on undoubtedly the greatest rock band of all time, and Mick Wall doesn't climb that mountain here. It's an impossible feat because the author wasn't there so relies on the testimony of others to create this tome. The book is also flawed by the constantly antagonistic tone that pervades the material; the author always trying to find friction in relationships and adversity where there isn't necessarily any. For example, John Bonham is portrayed as referring to Jimmy Page as a "soft, bloody Southerner" when there is nothing in the history of Led Zeppelin to suggest he had such an opinion. Another: Jeff Back is criticised by the author for "not being able to write a tune to save his life" which is like complaining that Leonardo da Vinci couldn't plumb a bathroom - neither were their vocations.

The most egregious failing though is the italicised pieces where the author invents viewpoints, incidents and dialogue. Although he has a disclaimer at the front of the book acknowledging that these passages are mereley a "product of my imagination" they have no credible place atall in a book that claims to be a factual biography of the band. As these passages are characterised by needless profanity and abuse they are a dismal addition that principally tarnishes the book.

Some interesting insights into the tracks, their origins and the latter days of the band and characters, but ultimately not a giant of a book in the Led Zeppelin canon.


The Ambassadors' Secret: Holbein and the World of the Renaissance
The Ambassadors' Secret: Holbein and the World of the Renaissance
by John North
Edition: Paperback

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 10 July 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Holbein's Ambassadors has always been an intriguing painting and here North applies his profound intellect to analyse and reveal the meaning and profound intelligence that lies within. Ostensibly a painting of two men on either side of a two-tier table of random artefacts, every single feature of the painting is revealed to have deep and inter-dependent meaning. Not revealing "almost to the day", but precisely to the day and time that the painting comprehensively documents.

It is remarkable that it has taken almost 500 years to uncover the depth of meaning in this painting, rather like the works of Shakespeare continuing to reveal its further depths.

The only weakness in the book is the author tending towards supposition in its latter part, having previously established the facts, with liberal use of should/would/could/likely. But this does not detract from this book being the most important analysis of this painting that there has ever been.

On future visits to the National Gallery I will look at this painting from an entirely different perspective than the curious and less well informed one that I had before.


Fear Of Flying
Fear Of Flying
by Erica Jong
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A potent mix of intellect and sexuality, 4 Jan 2009
This review is from: Fear Of Flying (Paperback)
Ths is an outstanding book written by a very liberated woman of the 70s - but while that is nearly 40 years ago it still packs a punch. The sexual content of this book is what it is most famous (or infamous) for with its tales of sexual promiscuity and coarse language that is entirely in keeping with the events it describes. But just as important as this, for me, is the erudition of the writer. She is very well-educated/read and augments the sexual tales of the main character Isadora Wing with copious apposite references to Shakespeare, music, etc. The pace of the book is often thrilling as it describes events so rapidly and intellectually as well as providing insight to the sexually liberated female mind.

I am dubious as to whether the book is largely fictional as the detail and intensity are entirely consistent with being biographical, if not autobiographical. Nevertheless it really is excellent brain food and a potent mix of intellect and sexuality.


The Sexual Life Of Catherine M
The Sexual Life Of Catherine M
by Catherine Millet
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sex, not love, 9 Oct 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a compelling read of the most promiscuous of lives a woman could lead. Catherine has no sexual boundaries. She tries everything. Her objective is to make herself available to any man, even strangers, to experience everything. The extremes are disturbing, including insisting on anal sex on one occasion because at the time she had venereal disease. Pornographic, scatalogical, there's no limits. A meandering list of anecdotes rather than a cohesive tale. And no romance, affection or love.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3