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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: February ::
Re: Shakespeare and Research
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0234  Friday, 7 February 2003

From:           James Conlan <
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Date:           Friday, 07 Feb 2003 21:26:35 +0000
Subject: 14.0185 Re: Shakespeare and Research
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0185 Re: Shakespeare and Research

I thank people for expressing their opinions about the possibility (or
necessity for imagining) that Shakespeare studied abroad, and I will
take all suggestions under advisement.  It appears now that the question
is now phrased as what counts as intimate knowledge.

As a caution to those who might assume Shakespeare could have found out
all he needed to know about _The Tempest's_ nautical language from
casual tavern-talk or a book, I would point out that in the Age of Sail,
the propriety of the mariners' behavior was a bone of contention,
pitting no less than Samuel Johnson (who consulted with an expert in
maritime affairs) against Malone and, somewhat later, the second lord
Mulgrave, Lord Admiral of the Royal Navy.  (Pepys's response is no help,
of course, because, Dryden who translated the _Aeneid_ and Davenant,
Royalist Lord Governor of Virginia during the Interregnum) rewrote the
scene in their _Tempest, or Enchanted Isle_ so that the mariners had
already run aground and were busily working to kedge their way off a
sandbar using a combination of anchor and sail.) Whether the canals
leading from Verona, the positioning of the map room of Doge's palace
vis a vis the disembarking point for Venetian messengers as per
_Othello_, and the brief time that it takes to ride post from the point
in Messina's harbor to the Palazzo Real de Messina relative to the time
it takes to sail the same distance (the underlying premise of the first
scene of _Much Ado_) is evidence of sea travel or not, it certainly
speaks to Shakespeare's knowledge of and frequent attention to staging
or alluding to actual approaches by ship in his Italian plays.

Best to all,
JP Conlan

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