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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: January ::
Solving the M.O.A.I. Riddle
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0163  Thursday, 27 January 2005

From:           Steve Sohmer <
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Date:           Wednesday, 26 Jan 2005 14:26:32 EST
Subject:        Solving the M.O.A.I. Riddle

Dear Friends,

I wonder if those who have Italian (or those who do not) would care to
join in trying to solve the riddle of the meaning of M.O.A.I. in TN?

If, in the person of Malvolio, Shakespeare is send up Gabriel Harvey (as
many commentators believe) I suspect M.O.A.I. may be a wink at Harvey's
famous encounter with Elizabeth in Oxfordshire during which she
commented on how Italian he looked.

My hunch is that Shakespeare's M.O.A.I. are the initials of this piece
of choice Italian:

                         MANIERA (BLANK) ASPETTO ITALIANO.

That is (roughly) "His manner is BLANK, though his appearance is Italian."

I'd like to invite those so inclined to offer their hunches for the
Italian word that "O." might stand for to deliver the maximum comic
effect ... or the whole M.O.A.I. Or, if you think I'm all wet, by all
means straighten me out.

Steve Sohmer

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