‘Give me the ocular proof’: Shakespeare's Italian language-learning habits

Jason Lawrence

in Who the Devil Taught Thee So Much Italian?

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780719069147
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781702543 | DOI:
‘Give me the ocular proof’: Shakespeare's Italian language-learning habits

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This chapter examines the Italian language-learning habits of William Shakespeare. It investigates whether Shakespeare learned Italian by means of a professional language teacher or from his own self-study of the language-learning manuals so popular in the late Elizabethan period. It discusses his meeting with John Florio and analyses Shakespeare's borrowings from Florio's manuals to determine what they might reveal about the playwright's attempts to acquire some knowledge of Italian. It explains that it was Florio who provided Shakespeare with both a rudimentary knowledge of the language and guided access to a collection of Italian books. This chapter highlights Shakespeare use of the tragicomedic practice, an Italian model which he continued to engage and experiment with until the end of his dramatic career.

Keywords: William Shakespeare; Italian language; language leaning; John Florio; tragicomedic practice

Chapter.  24362 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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