Global Language and World Culture
William Shakespeare and John Florio

William Shakespeare and John Florio

Shakespeare literary reputation and mysteries
Shakespeare literary reputation and mysteries

William Shakespeare and John Florio. The life of Shakespeare is a fine mystery, and I tremble every day lest something should turn up.
Charles Dickens, 1847.

Shakespeare is – let us put it this way – the least English of English writers. The typical quality of the English is understatement, saying a little less than what you see. In contrast, Shakespeare tended toward the hyperbolic metaphor, and it would come to us as no surprise to learn that Shakespeare had been Italian, or Jewish, for instance.
Jorge Luis Borges, Borges oral, 1979

The Shakespeare industry is built upon a vast fictitious fantasy. Many people directly profit from this industry so therefore imagination is not free and conjecture is not cheap.
Charles Hughes

Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare until you can prove with actual documentary evidence that Shakespeare did not write Shakespeare.
Mark Andre Alexander

When I read the poems and plays through the lens of Stratford, I get much insight and greatness but only from the plays themselves. Shakespeare the man leaves no mark on the plays as far as I can access. This violates my experience of almost every other great artist I know of.
Mark Andre Alexander

As an Italian writer of aphorisms, literature lover, English teacher, trader and Internet publisher I don’t think Florio was Shakespeare, for different reasons, first of all because I believe that the Shakespearean macrotext is not the miracle of just a single person, what’s more a work of art is not by an author and neither is life, as Carmelo Bene once affirmed; finally as our Juliet would say: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.”; and last but not least Florio had all the possibilities to publish all the plays he wanted with his name, so why using a pen name, but nonetheless the matter remains a real mistery, as the life of the great national bard of England. Anyway Florio was a great scholar, linguist, lexicographer, translator, and what’s more he almost died a poor man, so we have a lot of things in common. What we can’t absolutely deny is the enormous influence that his literary works had on the English language, culture and intertextuality of the writers of the period, included the superb Shakespeare’s production and consequently our appreciation of it. All this said, as in the market we can’t be sure of anything, the hypothesis being fascinating and what’s more even Shakespeare through Iago once said: “I am not what I am.” while Matthew Gwinne, a doctor whose pen name was “Il Candido” in a sonnet devoted to his dearly esteemed friend and fellow wrote: “I am, all that I am, Florio, thy debter.”
Carl William Brown

Un opera d’arte non è di un autore e neanche la vita lo è.
Carmelo Bene

The native act and figure of my heart In compliment extern, ’tis not long after But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve For daws to peck at. I am not what I am.
William Shakespeare

Outside of his dramas, Shakespeare isn’t as much alive as the polychrome bust on his grave.
Mario Praz

Forgive thy friends: they would, but cannot praise, inough’ the wit, art, language of thy PLAYES: forgive thy foes; they will not praise thee. Why? Thy Fate hath thought it best, they should envy.
Faith, for thy FOXES sake, forgive them those who are not worthy to be friends, nor foes. Or, for their owne brave sake, let them be still fooles at thy mercy, and like what they will.
John Florio (London 1607 Verses devoted to Ben Jonson for the publication of Volpone)

As for critics I accompt of them as crickets (…) they lurke in corners but catch cold if they look out (…) they are bred of filth & fed with filth, what vermine to call them I know not, or wormes or flies or what worse? (…) they do not seek honie with the bee, but suck poison with the spider. (…) As for me, for it is I, and I am an Englishman in italiane; I know They have a knife at command to cut my throate “Un Inglese Italianato è un Diavolo incarnato”.
John Florio, To the Reader, Second Frutes

L. May a man know your name I pray?
G. Yea sir, why not? My name is William.
L. I pray you sir tell me your name.
G. I am called W. at your commandement.
L. What countrey man, and of what place are you?
G. I am Italian, and of Padoa, at your commandement.
John Florio, Second Frutes, VI

We neede not speak so much of love, al books are ful of love, with so many authours, that it were labour lost to speake of Love.
John Florio, First Fruites, Discourses uppon Musicke, and Love, 1578

In truth I acknowledge an entyre debt, not onely of my best knowledge, but of all, yea of more then I know or can, to your bounteous Lordship most noble, most vertuous, and most Honorable Earle of Southampton, in whose paie and patronage I have lived some yeeres; to whom I owe and vowe the yeeres I have to live.
John Florio, A Worlde of Wordes, The Epistle Dedicatorie, 1598

The Shakespearian oeuvre is that of an authentic, highly cultivated professional, who must have spent his life studying languages and teaching, a professional with all the characteristics of the linguist John Florio.
Lamberto Tassinari

All the “friends” of Shakespeare who appear in the colourless biography of the man from Stratford are John Florio’s historically documented friends – from Lord Southampton to William Pembroke. William Shakespeare’s presumed godfathers were John Florio’s well-known students and protectors. Ben Jonson considers Florio “his loving Father and worthy Friend Master John Florio. Ayden of his Muses.”. Similar tributes are shared by many other nobles.
Lamberto Tassinari

John Florio Portrait
John Florio Portrait

On July 12, 2013 Saul Frampton published in The Guardian the first part of a long article Who Edited Shakespeare? and a second part on August 10 titled In search of Shakespeare’s dark lady which open a new chapter in Shakespearian studies. Saul Frampton teaches at the University of Westminster, Department of English, Linguistics and Cultural Studies. He is module leader for Reading the American Dream and Early Modern Identities. Four years after the book of Lamberto Tassinari John Florio The Man Who Was Shakespeare that was published in 2009, Frampton dares to establish, first time in the main stream a dangerous liaison between the linguist and translator of Jewish-Italian origin and the vacuous figure of the bard of Stratford or the actor, moneylender and playwright.

Saul Frampton doesn’t mention Tassinari’s work on Florio, however he expresses opinions as original and heretical as his! He also announces his forthcoming book on Shakespeare and Florio. Thanks to Frampton John Florio has now stepped into the foreground as the editor of the greatest writer in the English language. This would be a great honor in any case!

But let’s find out a bit more about the author of John Florio, the man who was Shakespeare. Lamberto Tassinari was born in Castelfiorentino and spent his childhood on the island of Elba. After obtaining a degree in Philosophy from the University of Florence, he lived in Rome, Milan and Turin where he worked as a teacher and in several publishing companies. He moved to Montreal in 1981. Two years later he was one of the founders of the transcultural magazine ViceVersa which he directed until its last issue in 1997.

Between 1982 and 2007, he taught Italian language and literature at the Université de Montréal. In 1985 he published a novel, Durante la partenza, in 1999 a collection of essays, Utopies par le hublot and in 2008 Shakespeare? È il nome d’arte di John Florio. He is currently at work on his second novel and on a production of The Tempest to be staged on the island of Vulcano in the Aeolian Archipelago off Sicily. For the first time ever, the play’s autobiographical nature will reveal the underlying, true identity of the Bard, John Florio.

William Shakespeare true identity debate
William Shakespeare true identity debate

John Florio, an Elizabethan writer and courtier unknown to Shakespeare’s readers, forgotten or ignored by scholars, a gifted translator, linguist and propagator of Italian, French and Spanish languages and cultures in the England of the Tudors and Stuarts assumes his true identity as the author of the plays and poems attributed to a Stratford actor, William Shackespeare, Shake-Speares or Shakespere. In 1623, the thirty-six plays written by John Florio were collected under his pen name Shakespeare and attributed to the actor. Since then, the greatest dramatic work of modernity has been associated to the insignificant life of an illiterate man. So goes history at times.

Why has this great Elizabethan, John Florio, been forgotten by scholars? There must be something rotten within the kingdom of Shakespearean Studies… John Florio, the son of an Italian protestant preacher with Jewish forebears exiled to London in 1550, opens a fascinating perspective: a fully European Shakespeare, a powerful transcultural writer, a unique linguist, an omnipresent courtier. Florio was the first translator in English of Montaigne’ Essays and Boccaccio’s Decameron, the author of the first, “grand” Italian-English dictionary in 1598, the personal secretary of Queen Anne from 1603 to her death in 1619, the tutor, friend and protégé of the Earl of Southampton and of William Herbert 3d Earl of Pembroke, the friend of Giordano Bruno and more (…)

Shakespeare is about to assume his true identity, that of John Florio, who defined himself Italian in speech, English at heart. The book reconstructs with rigour and passion the marvelous metamorphosis through which John Florio became the Bard on the banks of the Thames. A Shakespeare “made in Europe” shows us that the birth of the modern world possesses a richness and a complexity that fills one with awe (…)

John Florio added more than a thousand new words to the English language, showing a linguistic creativity identical to the one attributed to William Shakespeare. Furthermore, Florio compiled the first Italian/English dictionary, its 1611 edition contained 74,000 Italian words and 150,000 English words, one third more Italian words than the prestigious Accademia della Crusca’s dictionary published in 1612 in Florence. Frances Yates, author of Florio’s biography (1934), defines Florio’s dictionary as the epitome of the era’s culture. (…)

John Florio translated the Essays of Montaigne and Boccaccio’s Decameron, two exceptional works. The “idea” of trans-lating these fundamental texts during such a crucial time for the development of English culture is in itself an extraordinary feat. Florio’s translations prove that he is a great writer, a poet close in spirit and style to Shakespeare. If we keep in mind that Florio was writing “in prose” and not in “verse” like Shakespeare, their closeness becomes another coincidence. According to T.S. Eliot, the translation of Montaigne’s work is a classic of English literature.  print John Florio The Man Who Was Shakespeare by Lamberto Tassinari Giano Books 429 pages.

What is in a name? A lot, in some instances.
Of all of the specious, uninformed, deranged, foolishly asinine, evidence-free, baseless speculations of the anti-Shakespeare crowd, the only one I have even a modicum of fondness for is Giovanni Florio. To state his name that was is to encapsulate why he has never gained ground in the Authorship debate: He’s FOREIGN – or at least foreign-ish! And he’s NOT NOBLE! But if you accept the arguments of the Oxenfraudians regarding how one proves authorial identity, there is a lot to recommend Florio. Not anything like evidence, mind you.

The vast knowledge of Italian writers, some of whom had not yet been translated into English, could not have been known by the “man from Stratford.” One clear example is Giordano Bruno, a Neapolitan heretic philosopher burned at the stake by the Roman Inquisition in 1600. The presence of Bruno’s thought and vocabulary in Shakespeare’s works is evident – it is a “physical” presence, which is refuted or ignored by Shakespearean scholars. This closeness is unexplainable if one considers the “man from Stratford,” but natural and normal if one remembers that John Florio and Giordano Bruno were house guests of the French ambassador in London for more than two years (from 1583 to 1585). Many of their works cross-reference each other.
Lamberto Tassinari

Anyway, as we can read in the Wikipedia article about John Florio we can conclude adding to the debate these other critic considerations. Francis Otto Matthiessen, in his analysis of Florio’s translation of Montaigne’s Essays, suggested the similarity between Florio’s and Shakespeare’s style, concluding that “Shakespeare and Florio were constantly talking with the same people, hearing the same theories, breathing the same air.”
Florio’s biographer Clara Longworth de Chambrun made an extensive analysis of Florio’s dramatic dialogues of First Fruits, Second Fruits and passages from Montaigne’s Essays, doing a comparison with Shakespeare’s dialogues and pointing out the similarities between the two writers.
Same textual and linguistic analysis has been done by Rinaldo C. Simonini, who compared Florio’s dramatic dialogues of First Fruits and Second Fruits with Shakespeare’s plays.
Frances Yates suggested that the vexed question of the relationship between John Florio and Shakespeare requires a fresh new consideration.
Saul Gerevini and Giulia Harding have also argued that John Florio’s language appears poetically similar to that of Shakespeare.
Stuart Kells has suggested that John Florio worked as collaborator of Shakespeare’s plays along with Ben Jonson and as editor of the First Folio.
Saul Frampton in a Guardian’s article published in 2013, has suggested that Florio was the editor of the First Folio, stating that “We cannot tell for certain whether the words were written by John Florio or by William Shakespeare.”
Jeremy Lester argues a far deeper implication of John Florio in the production of Shakespeare’s play than previously thought.

Fair is foul, and foul is fair: Hover through the fog and filthy air.
William Shakespeare

Profonda magia è sempre trar il contrario dopo aver trovato il punto de l’unione.
Giordano Bruno

E’ vero, è vero senza errore, è certo è verissimo: ciò che è in alto è come ciò che è in basso, e ciò che è in basso è come ciò che è in alto, per fare il miracolo della cosa unica.
Ermete Trismegisto

To find out more about this matter follow this link:

Shakespeare dictionary

John Florio quotes

Read also :

John Florio short biography ;

New World of Words, Florio’s Dictionary ; ;

Read more of this short dictionary following this link!

William Shakespeare’ s literary reputation!

Lamberto Tassinari videos on John Florio  ;

John Florio is Shakespeare website  ;

Shakespeare and Florio website  ;

John Florio website in English and Italian ;

William Shakespeare, life and works ; ;

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