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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: August ::
Re: Shakespeare and Dante
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1504  Friday, 27 August 1999.

[1]     From:   Carol Fortunato <
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        Date:   Thursday, 26 Aug 1999 10:05:17 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1497 Re: Shakespeare and Dante

[2]     From:   Roy Flannagan <
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        Date:   Thursday, 26 Aug 1999 10:30:18 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1497 Re: Shakespeare and Dante

[3]     From:   Marilyn Bonomi <
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        Date:   Thursday, 26 Aug 1999 13:40:26 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1497 Re: Shakespeare and Dante

[4]     From:   Edward Pixley <
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        Date:   Thursday, 26 Aug 1999 16:02:06 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1497 Re: Shakespeare and Dante

[5]     From:   John Velz <
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        Date:   Thursday, 26 Aug 1999 18:09:37 -0500
        Subj:   Claudio and Dante?

[6]     From:   Karen Peterson-Kranz <
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        Date:   Friday, 27 Aug 1999 09:20:13 +1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1497 Re: Shakespeare and Dante


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Carol Fortunato <
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Date:           Thursday, 26 Aug 1999 10:05:17 EDT
Subject: 10.1497 Re: Shakespeare and Dante
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1497 Re: Shakespeare and Dante

I have always found it interesting that when Macbeth murders Duncan, he
simultaneously commits all four sins that are punished in Ninth Circle -
the deepest pit - of Inferno.  He commits an act of treachery and murder
against his political ally, his kinsman, his guest, AND his lord.  I
have often wondered if this was intentional.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Roy Flannagan <
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Date:           Thursday, 26 Aug 1999 10:30:18 -0400
Subject: 10.1497 Re: Shakespeare and Dante
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1497 Re: Shakespeare and Dante

On Shakespeare's knowledge of Italian, would it be appropriate to quote
Hamlet's reference to a play's being written in "choice Italian" and ask
if such a reference doesn't indicate that the author of  Hamlet could
tell the difference between choice Italian and inferior Italian?

There is no clincher of proof here, but the way Shakespeare puns on
"montanto" and the links between "Beatrice" and "Benedick" or between
"Malvolio" and "Benvolio" do indicate that he knew the language he was
punning in.

Roy Flannagan

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marilyn Bonomi <
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Date:           Thursday, 26 Aug 1999 13:40:26 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 10.1497 Re: Shakespeare and Dante
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1497 Re: Shakespeare and Dante

I offer absolutely NO scholarly information here.  However, given the
general move westward of all things Italian over the years before
Shakespeare actually wrote the plays, the atmosphere in which he wrote
would have been saturated with Dante and Petrarch, Ficino, Machiavelli
and Castiglione.

The conversations in which Shakespeare would have taken part would have
included references to works that others had read, even if he had not.

Unless theatre people and writers were far different in the 1590's than
in the 1990's, their talk would be peppered with passionate debate about
the relative merits of one or another new reading experience.  And
hearing these debates would have provided Shakespeare w/ both content
and style knowledge despite his lack of reading ability.

To draw a limited modern comparison:  I do not watch television; I
rarely see movies.  Yet I can discourse intelligently on both and even
incorporate into my teaching references to cultural icons that I have
never seen nor heard.

My 2 coppers...

Marilyn Bonomi

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edward Pixley <
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Date:           Thursday, 26 Aug 1999 16:02:06 -0700
Subject: 10.1497 Re: Shakespeare and Dante
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1497 Re: 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

Though I yield to all those who have been speaking with so much
authority, I had always assumed that the Porter in the Scottish Play is
alluding to his own presence in Dante's ninth level of hell (the level
in which regicides reside, I believe) when he says, "but this place is
too cold for hell; I'll devil-porter it no longer."  But probably
Dante's is not the only source for a level of hell that is consumed by
ice.

Ed Pixley

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Velz <
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Date:           Thursday, 26 Aug 1999 18:09:37 -0500
Subject:        Claudio and Dante?

Richard Regan proposes that the description of the punishments in the
afterlife in Claudio's speech reminds us of Dante.  We can look to Dante
for the "viewless winds", and also to Dante's source, Macrobius'
Commentarii in Somnium Scipionis for the punishment of being whirled
about the pendent world.  This latter punishment is, fittingly enough
for Claudio, a punishment for the lecherous.  These identifications were
first made by W.G. Stone in Notes and Queries fifth ser. 11 (1879).
Stone missed the fittingness of this punishment to Claudio's "sin".  (I
know it may not be a sin if the act was committed in a handfast
marriage, but all the same the irony is there in awareness of the
source.)

John Mahon might want to reflect on Beatrice and Benedick.  Beatrice
("the blessed woman") in Dante's formulation in both the Divine Comedy
and La Vita Nuova is the unattainable yet beloved ladylove.  I have
always found it specially fitting that Benedick's name is the Latin  for
Beatrice's Italian name.  They belong together.  That is probably common
knowledge, but I cannot recall having seen it in print.  There are over
a dozen entries besides Stone s.v. "Dante Alighieri" in the Index to
Shakespeare and the Classical Tradition 1660-1960.

Good hunting in Will,
John

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Karen Peterson-Kranz <
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Date:           Friday, 27 Aug 1999 09:20:13 +1000
Subject: 10.1497 Re: Shakespeare and Dante
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1497 Re: Shakespeare and Dante

>He might have read Dante in Italian.  Milton certainly did, and
>obviously Chaucer.

As a minor addendum to the very interesting responses already posted on
this string...I have on my shelf, as yet unread, *The Italian World of
English Renaissance Drama: Cultural Exchange and Intertextuality,*
(Michele Marrapodi, ed., Delaware UP, 1998).  The index suggests that
Dante is seen as a peripheral influence, but then I haven't read the
book yet.

The question of Shakespeare's knowledge of Italian has been in the back
of my mind for many years, since (long, long ago in a galaxy far, far
away) I wrote a paper in graduate school in which I attempted to prove
that Shakespeare & Fletcher were familiar with Teseide and used it, as
well as Chaucer's "Knight's Tale," as source material for Two Noble
Kinsmen.  As I recall, after exhaustive poring over of microfilmed text
facsimiles, I think I concluded (the paper now resides in a box on
another continent) that some of the characterization of Emilia bore more
resemblence to Tasso than to Chaucer, but it was pretty tenuous.  The
language problem is more substantial than I was then willing to admit.
I'm curious if anyone else has worked on this (either Shakespeare's
knowledge of Italian or lack thereof, or use of Tasso)?

Cheers,

Karen Peterson-Kranz
University of Guam
 

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