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5.0 out of 5 stars SHAKESPEARE REALLY DID GO TO ITALY!, 14 Mar. 2013
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This review is from: The Shakespeare Guide to Italy: Retracing the Bard's Unknown Travels (Paperback)
For many years I have been convinced that William Shakespeare, probably accompanying some young noble English aristocrat - maybe the Earl of Southampton - sent on an early Grand Tour to keep him out of trouble at home, visited Europe and Italy in particular and spent probably at least two or three years touring the country. I lived there myself for 10 years and there are simply too many authentic references in his plays for them to have been gleaned purely from incoming travellers' hearsay in the pub or from scouring the too few early 'travel books.' Frankly it disgusts me that so many assumptions have been made by Shakespeare's supporters and critics alike confidently stating on no evidence whatsoever, as if they actually know for sure, that he never went to the land where so many of his plays are set, not even bothering to check the internet to see for themselves the still existing massive network of canals from Venice and the Adriatic into the Italian hinterland, snaking across country to the many inland 'ports', especially the oft-derided 'non-existent' one in Milan - very much there, in the centre of that great City, if they only bothered to look on the internet, crammed with working and summer recreational boats! One of the late unlamented Berlusconi's few good acts while in government was to order the clearing and reconstruction of thousands of neglected canals in the Veneto/Po Valley/Lombardy region, allocating millions of euros to the project. So this is no work by a dry, study-based, Academic theorist, the late Richard Paul Roe, who although a true scholar, got down, dusty and sweaty in a blistering Italian summer - probably several summers since he investigates the actual locations of ALL Shakespeare's 'Italian plays' - investigating and discovering truly astonishing local places mentioned or extensively used in the plays, many long gone but still in 'folk memory.' An amazing number are still extant and, by their very obscurity, provide proof that William spent more than a day's visit but lived in them for a sufficiently long period to acquire local knowledge which he used in his glorious plays. His alleged 'little Latin and less Greek' would have been polished into a good working knowledge of Italian and even the Italian names he chooses for his characters illustrates this, names highly unlikely to have been thought up or chosen at random if he was sitting twiddling his quill in London all the time! Perhaps most impressive 'proof' of Will's European travels is Roe's investigation into 'The Merchant of Venice' where he amply illustrates the many authentic references to the unpleasant exigencies of the daily existence of the many Jews' living and working there at that time, including the particular clothes they were obliged to wear (a relatively discreet yellow circle on them not, at least, a prominent Star of David), their special dietary requirements and religious observances, Venice then being one of the few places left in Europe where a Jew could feel relatively safe from murderous persecution, albeit locked into the ghetto at sundown! Not from Christian compassion it must be said but because they were needed to pursue the Venetians lucrative buying and selling philosphy, some aspects of which Christian ethics forbade but were acceptable to conduct via the Jews! There are totally convincing discoveries all along the way due to Roe's almost-obsessive investigations. Romeo & Juliet also surprises with its painstaking tracking down of an oft-mentioned wood outside the city, which Roe discovered still exists, now reduced in size but very much there.He also discovers the obscure and much-altered and re-named church where WS had Friar Lawrence marry the tragic couple and where they died in the play. In reality it's extremely sad that Roe has himself died because it would be wonderful to engage him in a discussion about his astonishing travels and make what could be magnificent and persuasive documentary film about them (maybe Tony Robinson could do a 'special'?). To me the book represents another nail in the coffins of the doubters who claim Shakespeare didn't write the plays, to whom, if I could, I would give each a copy of this splendid book with the accompanying suggestion they open their presently closed minds and 'get real' (and be rather less snobbish) about their rejection as author of the works emanating from the profound natural intelligence, curiousity and genius of that unique Man from Stratford upon Avon! A truly rivetting read. Well written, produced and well illustrated. Strongly recommended.
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Showing 1-10 of 34 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 18 May 2013 13:55:56 BDT
Mac Cooper says:
Dear Queen Mab. I've read many books on the authorship question and I don't remember anyone denying that 'Shakespeare' wrote the plays and poems. The question is whether or not the author was William Shakspere, the glover's son from Stratford-upon-Avon. The spelling is important; the family invariably spelt their name this way. (See A. J. Pointon, 'The Man Who Was Never Shakespeare) I believe it is the Stratfordians who need to open their minds and 'get real' and enter into an honest, intelligent debate on this important subject. I rather resent your use of the word 'snobbish.' I would love the author to be the Stratford man but, if you look a little deeper, you will find there is just no evidence for it.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 May 2013 11:51:29 BDT
N. DAVIES says:
You really do need to read the plays. They are replete with references to Shakespeare's life and friends of Stratford, e.g. his awarding of his coat of arms in MoV and Richard Field his publisher. Your lack of awareness of these facts do not mean they are not there and known to others who have taken rather more time and effort to recognise them.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 May 2013 20:41:37 BDT
Mac Cooper says:
Dear N. Davies,
Thank you for your reply. I agree with you on one point: everyone should read the plays, and the poems, too. It would be wonderful if the plays were
'replete with references etc,' but this just isn't true. There are a few lines which could possibly refer to places around Stratford, but could equally mean somewhereelse. No hard and fast evidence has ever been found. You mention
'his awarding of his coat of arms in MoV.' I've really no idea what you mean. I'm well aware that Richard Field was from Stratford and printed Venus and Adonis and Rape of Lucrece, but this proves nothing. Field was one of the best printers in London, and so a natural choice. There is no record of
Shakespeare using him again.
Best wishes,

In reply to an earlier post on 22 May 2013 22:24:36 BDT
N. DAVIES says:
They are there and your wilful ignorance or denial does not remove them from being there. It is astonishing that evidence as strong as the coat of arms is there, present in the works, but instead of reading it and gaining a far better understanding than you obviously have, you simply say "I've really no idea what you mean". That is just a measure of your ignorance, not that the facts aren't there.

Cymbeline features Imogen referring to "Richard du Champ" and again "Fidele, sir". Richard du Champ is French for Richard Field. Richard Field (1561-1624) was a native of Stratford-upon-Avon and 3 years Shakespeare's senior. He was the son of Henry Field who was a Stratford tanner whose goods were evaluated by Shakespeare's father, a glovemaker, in 1592. Richard Field moved to London in 1579 and became a printer printing Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis in 1593, The Rape of Lucrece in 1594 and Love's Martyr in 1601 that includes Shakespeare's The Phoenix and the Turtle. The French pun on Richard Field of Stratford's name is further augmented by a Latin pun on his name in Fidele, which is of course also an anagram of "Field". In addition, Fidele's occupation is as a page to Richard du Champ, "page" being a further obvious printing pun on Richard Field's occupation. We know that Richard Field was prone to this type of punning on his own name himself as he printed several works between 1596 and 1600 by the Italian Cipriano de Valera, including Dos tratados, del Papa y de la Missa under the name "Ricardo del Campo", which is of course Italian for "Richard Field". William Shakespeare of Stratford's connections with Richard Field of Stratford are very well-documented and include the same home town, their fathers' Stratford business dealings and Field's professional printing of Shakespeare's plays.

In Sonnet 81, the author contemplates his death and the expectation that he will be forgotten after he has gone. He compares this to his subject whose memory will be everlasting, at least by virtue of the author's poetry, of which they are the subject, in part. The author's own destiny, in his own view, is no more than "a common grave". That is exactly the expectation of a commoner whose social standing in life has risen to no higher a level than "Gent.", as per William Shakespeare of Stratford and completely inconsistent with anyone of social standing above that.

In Sonnet 145 the author indulges in further puns on a name, in this instance, his lover's name of "Hathaway". He refers to the name of his lover that "sounds" like "I hate" which is "altered with an end that followed it" to make "Hathaway". In ""I hate" from hate away she threw", the poet deliberately places the words "hate" and "away" together to emphasise what he is punning on. Indeed, the line makes no sense without it being a pun on "Hathaway". And in a further pun on the final line of the sonnet he says "And saved my life" as in "Anne saved my life". William Shakespeare of Stratford's wife was, of course, Anne Hathaway.

In 1596, William's father, John Shakespeare, was granted a coat of arms, motto and the right to the title "Gentleman". He had first applied for this in the 1570's but it wasn't until his application in 1596 that he was successful, due to his son's fame giving the Shakespeare's name a higher stature and profile. The grant, as normal, stipulates that the coat of arms, motto and title of "Gentleman" are bestowed on John Shakespeare and all of his descendants. William Shakespeare thereafter was referred to as "William Shakespeare, Gent.". The assignment was also referred to by Ben Jonson in his play Every Man Out of His Humour in which Shakespeare's motto, Non sanz droicht (meaning "Not without right"), is parodied as "Not without mustard". This play was acted no later than 1599 and included William Shakespeare in the cast as Sogliardo, the recipient of this amusing jibe. In 1602, Peter Brooke, the Yorkshire Herald, accused Sir William Dethick (Garter King-of-Arms) and his associate Camden (Clarenceux King-of-Arms) of "elevating base persons, and assigning devices already in use". In his accusation, Brooke objected to 23 beneficiaries of entitlement and included a drawing of the Shakespeare application with its reference to William Shakespeare's occupation of "Ye Player" (Actor), citing this as the "appellation doubt pejoratively intended". In The Merchant of Venice, a suitor to Portia arrives to choose from the 3 caskets. His name is the Prince of Aragon which suitably alludes to the nobleman's arrogance. Aragon is excessively conscious of his social position, and insists that he is different from other men, particularly commoners: he will not "jump with common spirits" nor "rank me with the barbarous multitudes". He meditates on the subject of nobility who have "the stamp of merit" and are "the true seed of honour", deploring the fact that "low peasantry" who are "the chaff and ruin of the times" can be found wearing "undeserved dignity". After this remarkable conceit in which he convinces himself of how wonderful he is and how odious commoners who obtain titles are, he opens the silver casket, and wins not Portia but instead "the portrait of a blinking idiot...a fool's head". The correlation between the objections to Shakespeare's grant of a coat of arms and this scene couldn't be any clearer and the satisfaction that Shakespeare, the middle-class commoner, must have gained in this riposte to the arrogant nobleman of a "portrait of a blinking idiot...a fool's head" is almost palpable.

I could go on, but you really don't want to know these examples, you would rather remain in ignorance of them.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 May 2013 15:05:03 BDT
Mac Cooper says:
I'm sorry you have to resort to abuse! I have been researching this subject for some time. I am not denying anything; just trying to get at the truth. I'm afraid that, like all Stratfordians, you will latch on to any tiny hint, however tenuous, to connect Shakspere, of Stratford-upon-Avon with the works of the author William Shakespeare. What you call 'facts' are no such thing. The example from Cymbeline is typical. A lot of scholarly research is being undertaken at the moment. I suggest you take off your blinkers and read some. A. J. Pointon (2011) for instance writes: 'Anodd claim has been made about Field based on an event in Cymbeline.This is Imogen's use of the sobriquet "Richard du Champ" . . . It has been said that this was Shakspere, as Shakespeare, honouring Richard Field. Yet it looks anything but flattering, especially when it is noted - as Shakespeare would have known and Field's French wife would have pointed out - that "Richard du Champ" translates as " Bucolic Moneybags". . . .' The Sonnets are a particular interest of mine; but 145 continues to be a subject of controversy. Stephen Booth (1977) calls it 'the slightest of sonnets'; and other scholars believed it is not by Shakespeare at all. I could answer all your points, but I'm sure it would not make any difference to your entrenched attitude.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 May 2013 18:54:28 BDT
Last edited by the author on 23 May 2013 23:00:51 BDT
N. DAVIES says:
Richard du Champ is an obvious and direct translation of Richard Field. It is absurd to suggest it translates as "Bucolic Moneybags". And who is Pointon and what right does he have to claim what "Shakespeare would have known" and what "Field's French wife would have pointed out"? Field having a French wife even strengthens the French pun! Talk about blinkers! And 145 is a slight sonnet, arguably one written early in his career and distinctly not being in iambic pentameter. But its quality is irrelevant to it containing irrefutable puns on his wife's name no matter how inconvenient that is to your argument and how incapable you are of explaining why on earth it would be in Shakespeare's published sonnets if it were not by him.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 May 2013 12:28:25 BDT
Mac Cooper says:
Professor A. J. (Tony) Pointon was Director of Research at PortsmouthUniversity, founder and national Secretary of a union for lecturers in higher education, Government-appointed member of Acas, and Chairman of the International Dickens Fellowship.He has written a meticulously researched book - 'The Man Who was Never Shakespeare' (2011) As for the sonnets, you obviously follow the party line that the first 126 were written by a middle-aged man, who was also a commoner,to a young male aristocrat. Surely you must see that this is quite improbable.There is so much controversy about the sonnets and their publicationthat, in all honesty, not much for certain can be said about them. There is doubt about who wrote them and to whom, and how many poets were involved ( see H. T. S. Forrest 'The Five Authors of Shake-spear's Sonnets, 1923) It's quite likely that some were written by a woman -Mary Sidney ( see Robin P. Williams 'Sweet Swan of Avon' 2006) As I said in an early post it would give me great pleasure to discover some firm evidence that the Stratford glover's son wrote the works published under the name of 'Shakespeare.' I'm still looking!

In reply to an earlier post on 24 May 2013 18:16:11 BDT
Last edited by the author on 25 May 2013 08:56:18 BDT
N. DAVIES says:
I know who Pointer is. I'm questioning your reverence for his opinion when he is no better qualified than anyone else. He has written a book of little consequence that aligns with your preferred view of the authorship, nothing more than that.

As for the sonnets, they are clearly written as you have described. That's not "the party line" - it's from the facts of their content, contemporary evidence and information contained therein that I have no doubt atall you are further ignorant of.

As for you attributing their authorship to others, including women, you are clearly the worst kind of conspiracy theorist and I will leave you to wallow in your own ignorance of the vast riches of content that lie within and that the suggestion that anyone other than Shakespeare of Stratford wrote them is as laughable today as it would have been to contemporaries like Ben Jonson who unequivocally identified the author in his own dedications.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 May 2013 11:58:49 BDT
Mac Cooper says:
'Reverence' is an odd word to use! I'm willing to consider any writer who has obviously done their research and come up with evidence more convincing than found in most orthodox biographies! I hope I can tell the difference between opinion and fact! As to the Sonnets, there is no evidence that Shakespeare was homosexual. The 'facts of their content,' as you call them, connect not one jot with the known facts of the life of Shakspere of Stratford. Interestingly, they parallel closely the life of Mary Sidney. You've already hit me with the accusation of 'snobbishness;' now you come out with another favourite orthodox attack: 'conspiracy theory'! I assure you it is nothing of the kind. What Stratfordians denigrate in this way is usually an honest attempt by a researcher to get at the truth. Of course it doesn't suit the Orthodox to have their cosy myths questioned. Ben Jonson was anything but unequivocal. In 1618 Jonson told William Drummond that Shakespeare 'wanted art'; and his eulogy in the first folio is so full of ambiguities that little, if any, of it can be taken at face value. There are so many inconsistencies, oddities, and mismatches in this whole story that I fail to see how anyone can go along with the Orthodox view without at least wondering! There are so many anomalies. The dramatist obviously loved letters. All but five of the plays have them. Yet not one letter from, or even to, Shakspere (or Shakespeare) (discounting the one asking for a loan which was never sent) has ever been found. Not one scrap of writing (discounting the disputed Thomas Moore manuscript) by Shakespeare has ever been found apart from the six signatures. It is obvious that the author was concerned about the education of girls. In The Tempest Prospero has taught his daughter well: ' . . .here have I, thy schoolmaster, made thee more profit Than other princess can.' And yet Shakspere's own daughters were illiterate. Shakspere's will has not one item which would lead anyone to think that it was the will of a writer. In Stratford Shakspere was known only as a business man, dealer, and money-lender. John Davies wrote, after the publication of the Sonnets, an epigram entitled: 'To our English Terence, Mr Will. Shake-speare.' Terence was a Roman writer who made a living by publishing the work of others under his own name. There's so much more, but I'll call it a day. I have the impression that I am talking to a closed mind!

In reply to an earlier post on 25 May 2013 12:26:05 BDT
Last edited by the author on 25 May 2013 12:27:21 BDT
N. DAVIES says:
You are a fool who simply trots out the same old well-trodden and already discredited nonsense. Shakespeare's home was robbed after his death in a dispute with a local mercier. The court records explicitly state that books, desks, etc. were stolen with books as the very first in the long list of personal possessions. You are probably blissfully unaware of that fact which is why we have lost so much of record of him. The Great Fire of London destroyed 90% of London including Blackfriars that Shakespeare owned. Your requirement to have a pristine record is undermined by the facts of his life and history. The sonnets are rich in content and allusions and lazy comments like yours above does not remove those facts. Sonnet 145 being about Anne Hathaway is so inconvenient to your prejudice that you simply claim that it was not by Shakespeare. It is there, present in the sonnets published in his lifetime, the intelligence behind their structure strongly indicate he was party to their publication and the order in which they were sequenced, an early example of his writing refers to his wife but in an act of profound ignorance you choose not to believe it and even transfer its authorship to persons unknown who had no motive atall to write to a lover named Anne Hathaway. Your are so preposterous it is comical.
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