Martedì 16 Luglio 2024
Giulia Harding
John Florio – Was he Shakespeare’s first and most important collaborator? PDF  | Stampa |

If you are familiar with the works of John Florio, his translation of Montaigne’s essays for example, it is hard to resist the notion that he and Shakespeare must have been close friends because his style, ideas and language leap from the pages of Shakespeare’s early plays in multitude. Literary evidence aside, I aim to show here that the historical record and contemporary writings confirm this relationship. Florio is the flamboyant Italian character ‘Gullio’ of the famous comedy sketch produced by Cambridge students in the early 1600s, “The News from Parnassus, Part Two” in which he cries “sweet Mr. Shakespeare, I will have his picture in my study at Court”.

John Florio Was he Shakespeares first and most important collaborator (543.23 kB)

In memory of Frank Kermode PDF  | Stampa |

Saul and Giulia would like to record their sorrow at the death of Frank Kermode, who passed away, aged 90, on Tuesday, August 17th 2010.  Frank wrote some of the best literary criticism of Shakespeare you can find anywhere and his books, 'Shakespeare's Language' and 'The Age of Shakespeare' are superb.  If you have missed either of these books, read them now and share with us a real appreciation of a master craftsman

Shakespeare's fingerprints PDF  | Stampa |
Why is it that Saul Gerevini and I are so confident that John Florio had a significant hand in the writing of Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets?

Well, imagine that I placed before you two typewritten pages from unpublished Sicilian crime stories.  I have told you that one is from a novel by Leonardo Sciascia and the other from a story by Andrea Camilleri, and then I challenge you to determine which is which.  I know that if you are at all familiar with the work of either or both writers you would correctly match the pages to their authors almost immediately.  
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John Florio: Early life and career PDF  | Stampa |
Through this web site I would like you to come to know John Florio, which is something more than simply knowing about him.  I will be brief in covering his early life and career, for this period is well documented and without controversy.  Later on you shall hear more of John’s own voice, interacting with his critics and meet a real, three-dimensional personality. 
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John Florio : the Cambridge years PDF  | Stampa |
In the autumn of 1585 England’s Catholics still believed they might prevail and return their country to the fold of the Vatican if they could rid themselves of Elizabeth and bring Mary Queen of Scots to the throne.  They sought support from abroad and there was pressure from the Pope to help.
Thus in September of that year a new, hard-line Catholic ambassador was sent to London from the French court, Baron de Chasteuneauf.   He was immediately suspicious of John Florio, he had no children in need of a tutor and did not want the prying eyes of Burghley’s man looking over his correspondence and listening into his conversations.
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Florio and language PDF  | Stampa |
In any books or articles you may read about John Florio it dismays me to see that hardly anybody has realized that Florio’s mission in life was to expand and improve the English language.  As a foreign language tutor, and we see him most vividly in this guise in his first book ‘First Fruites’, we find him wrestling with translation because so many words he was familiar with in Italian or French were simply missing from the English vocabulary.
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A lenghty exchange PDF  | Stampa |
What followed from the ‘Menaphon’ attack would become a lengthy exchange with comments and asides in almost everything the two men wrote from then on.  Others would comment on it culminating in a satirical sketch put on by St. John’s students for the entertainment of the College which tells us in no uncertain terms that the central issue of the quarrel is Florio’s relationship with “sweet Mr. Shakespeare”.  It makes best sense to follow the exchanges in more or less chronological order to see the ‘tit for tat’ nature of the dialogue.  That brings us next to the Spring of 1591.
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Lenten stuff : Nashe's last attack PDF  | Stampa |
Sure enough Nashe picked up on Florio's quarrel with H. S. at his next opportunity, in his publication the following year of 'Lenten Stuff'.  Nashe had instantly identified with "he that will be witty in another man's book" and further acknowledged the fact by lighting upon Florio's reference to Martial.  The "knavish name" the Roman writer devised for such a one was "putre halec" a rotten herring that spoils the rest of the barrel.  
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The Parnassus satire PDF  | Stampa |
The character based on Thomas Nashe in 'The Three Parnassus Plays' was named Ingenioso and in the third of the trilogy he appears in dialogue with a character called Gullio.  Their conversation bears some remarkable similarities to the quarrel outlined here.
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Humphrey King and absolute Johannes factotum PDF  | Stampa |
This leaves two mysteries still to solve - the identity of Humphrey King, NOT Florio but somebody close to him who felt that he, too, had been insulted in the ‘Groatsworth’ epistle. Then there is also that rude Latin nickname Hugh Sanford devised from 'Resolute I. F.' and Florio's assertion that Nashe had made use of it while adding something to another mans book.  My belief is that Florio was the complaining gentleman who suspected Nashe had added the 'Epistle to the gentlemen playmakers' to the end of Robert Greene's 'Groatsworth of Wit', in the same way that he had prefaced Greene's 'Menaphon' to the 'gentlemen students' and that the rude name in question was "Absolute Iohannes Factotum".   
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