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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: August ::
Re: Shakespeare and Dante
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1497  Thursday 26 August 1999.

[1]     From:   Jim Shaw <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 25 Aug 1999 15:14:38 GMT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1491 Shakespeare and Dante

[2]     From:   Milla Riggio <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 25 Aug 1999 11:00:32 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1491 Shakespeare and Dante

[3]     From:   Lawrence Manley <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 25 Aug 1999 11:53:35 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1491 Shakespeare and Dante

[4]     From:   Drew Whitehead <
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        Date:   Thursday, 26 Aug 1999 09:21:46 +1000 (GMT+1000)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1491 Shakespeare and Dante

[5]     From:   Richard Regan <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 25 Aug 1999 23:01:51 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1491 Shakespeare and Dante


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jim Shaw <
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Date:           Wednesday, 25 Aug 1999 15:14:38 GMT
Subject: 10.1491 Shakespeare and Dante
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1491 Shakespeare and Dante

The following book may provide useful information on the availability of
Dante's work in the early modern period:

Dante's fame in England: references in printed British books 1477-1640,
by Jackson Campbell Boswell (Newark: University of Delaware Press,
1999)  ISBN 0874136059

Yours,
Jim Shaw
Shakespeare Institute Library

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Milla Riggio <
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Date:           Wednesday, 25 Aug 1999 11:00:32 -0400
Subject: 10.1491 Shakespeare and Dante
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1491 Shakespeare and Dante

To John Mahon:

He might have read Dante in Italian.  Milton certainly did, and
obviously Chaucer.  But Dante was not translated into English until
1797, I believe.  About the time that Blake also discovered him and
intime for The Inferno to provide all the images anyone might need to
describe 19-century cities.

In the sixteenth century in England he was, I also believe, thought to
be too vulgar and perhaps too Catholic.  Petrarch was preferred. (You've
lured me back into a series of conversations I thought I would not join
again....)

Milla Riggio

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Lawrence Manley <
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Date:           Wednesday, 25 Aug 1999 11:53:35 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 10.1491 Shakespeare and Dante
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1491 Shakespeare and Dante

On Wednesday, 25 Aug 1999, John Mahon wrote:

>Non-Shakespeareans, intrigued by all the discussion about Shakespeare's
>religious background, have asked me about Shakespeare and Dante.  That
>is, do we know anything about his knowledge of Dante?  Would Dante have
>been available to him?  Was Dante known or read at all in England in the
>sixteenth century?
>
>I realize that I should probably know the answers to these questions

I'm always surprised to find so much vagueness on the question of
Dante's influence (as opposed to availability) on English poets, though
perhaps I've missed an essential work somewhere.  A book that you may
find interesting if not directly helpful is Robin Kirkpatrick's _English
and Italian Literature from Dante to Shakespeare_(1995).

Kirkpatrick, like others, seems to punt the question of direct
influence, perhaps wisely.  In the course of three pages he says that
"It cannot be said with any confidence that Shakespeare was able to read
Italian"; that "Positive testimony either for Shakespeare's knowledge of
Italian or for his ignorance of the language is unlikely ever to be
established"; and that "Shakespeare had almost certainly not read
Dante."

Nevertheless, Kirkpatrick, citing the example of Francis Fergusson's
Trope to Allegory: Themes Common to Shakespeare and Dante (1977), writes
a very interesting little essay on Othello, in which he argues that in
the contrast between Iago and Othello-Desdemona, Shakespeare pits a
sixteenth-century Italian "love of excellence" (as exemplified by
figures like Machiavelli and Castglione) against a Dantesque "faith in
persons." This is an interpretive observation rather than a demonstrated
case about influence, but an interesting one, I think.

Lawrence Manley
Yale University

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Drew Whitehead <
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Date:           Thursday, 26 Aug 1999 09:21:46 +1000 (GMT+1000)
Subject: 10.1491 Shakespeare and Dante
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1491 Shakespeare and Dante

Dear John,

I too have often wondered (and wished and hoped) about Shakespeare and
Dante.  To the best of my knowledge there was no English edition of the
Divine Comedy available in Shakespeare's lifetime.  I have finally had
to content myself (because I would have liked him to have read either
the DC or the Vita Nuova) with the knowledge that he had obviously read
Chaucer's "Troilus and Criseyde" (to write Troilus and Cressida) and it
is simply stacked with both stuff that Chaucer had borrowed from the big
D., images, metaphor, even direct quotes.

Drew Whitehead
Dept. of English
University of Queensland

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard Regan <
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Date:           Wednesday, 25 Aug 1999 23:01:51 EDT
Subject: 10.1491 Shakespeare and Dante
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1491 Shakespeare and Dante

Claudio in MM (3.1) says: "or to reside/In thrilling region of
thick-ribbed ice/To be imprisoned in the viewless winds/And blown with
restless violence round about/The pendent world." This sounds like the
Inferno, including a reference to Paolo and Francesca, an appropriate
reference for the conversation between Claudio and Isabella.

Richard Regan
Fairfield University
 

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