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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: September ::
The Model for Romeo and Juliet?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1666  Tuesday, 7 September 2004

From:           Bill Lloyd <
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Date:           Monday, 6 Sep 2004 09:59:34 EDT
Subject: 15.1653 The Model for Romeo and Juliet?
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1653 The Model for Romeo and Juliet?

Wasn't Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet 'inspired' by Arthur Brooke's poem
*The Trqagicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet written first in Italian
by Bandell, and nowe in Englishe by Ar. Br.* published in 1562?  There's
a good discussion of the play's sources in vol 1 of Geoffrey Bullough's
*Narrative & Dramatic Sources of Shakespeare*.   Brooke's poem, which
was popular, was based closely [even down to names] on several 16c
Italian novels, and Shakespeare's play was based closely on Brooke.

But here's one aspect of Brooke's poem I don't think I've seen commented
on, though I've looked.  In his address To The Reader, Brookes says "...
I saw the same argument lately set foorth on stage with more
commendation, then I can looke for: (being there much better set forth
then I have or can doo)..."    If he is to be taken at his word, there
was already an (English?) play of Romeus & Juliet extant by the early
1560s.  We know Shakespeare sometimes reached back beyond the 1580s for
source material (Supposes, Promos & Cassandra)-- is there a lost
source-play in Romeo & Juliet's heritage?  Did it come into the hands of
James Burbage, ad speculatum...?

Bill Lloyd

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