Former Brief Chronicles co-editor Gary Goldstein announced today that the collected work of the late Italian researcher Noemi Magri, PhD has been published in English by the German firm Laugwitz Verlag. Goldstein said he has spent the past year editing Dr. Magri’s work and he will function as the North American distributor of the book, available through Amazon. Goldstein provided the following information about the publication of Such Fruits Out of Italy:The Italian Renaissance in Shakespeare’s Plays and Poems by Noemi Magri, PhD, (Laugwitz Verlag, Aug. 2014).
Such Fruits Out of Italy is the product of 15 years research by the Italian Fulbright scholar (New York University, 1985) and instructor of English at Mantua’s Istituto Tecnico Industriale Statale (State Industrial Technical Institute), Noemi Magri, PhD, who passed away in May 2011.
The book — a compilation of articles that appeared in British and American publications beginning in 1998 — answers a 400 year old question: are the allusions to Italian language, culture, and geography in William Shakespeare’s works accurate or imagined? The answer, according to the late Dr. Magri, is definitive: Shakespeare’s works are the fruit of the Bard’s extensive knowledge of Italian history and his personal experience while living in Italy.
Dr. Magri’s research yielded the following discoveries:
- Transportation among the northern Italian cities in the sixteenth century was conducted mostly through a complex network of canals that connected the streams and tributaries of the Po and Adige rivers to one another. The references in Two Gentlemen of Verona of traveling from Verona to Milan by boat was not only feasible but the preferred way to travel between inland cities in northern Italy.
- The primary source of Shakespeare’s narrative poem, Venus and Adonis, was not Ovid’s Metamorphoses or even Titian’s painting of Venus and Adonis in the Prado Museum, but a unique version of the same painting by Titian held by the artist in Venice until his death, now in the National Gallery of Palazzo Barberini in Rome.
- The identity of the three wanton paintings described by Shakespeare in the Induction to The Taming of the Shrew are Venus and the Rose by Luca Penni; Io by Correggio; and Apollo and Daphne by an anonymous artist.
- The historical location of Belmont in The Merchant of Venice was the Villa Foscari on the Brenta River, designed by the Italian architect, Palladio.
- The historical location of Saint Jacques Le Grand in All’s Well That Ends Well was San Giacomo Maggiore, near Florence, Italy – not Santiago de Compostela in France.
- The historical location of Othello and Desdemona’s house in Venice – the Sagittary – was on the Frezzaria near St. Mark’s Square – the street where arrows were made and sold.
- The historical location of Illyria in Twelfth Night and The Winter’s Tale was Epirus, or Byzantine Illyria, ruled by the Orsini family for centuries. The Orsini were dukes but, like Duke Orsino in Twelfth Night, counts as well. Specifically, the Orisini of Epirus were counts of Kefalonia, Zante and Ithaca.
- The Murder of Gonzago in Hamlet was based on the actual murder of the Duke of Urbino in Venice, who had poison poured in his ears just did the king in Hamlet.
Warren Hope, Professor of English at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia said:
Noemi Magri’s combination of a detailed, first-hand knowledge of Italian geography, architecture, art, and history with a cool-headed, rigorous approach to scholarship results in the kind of dazzling criticism that is rare in Shakespeare studies. She is unlike those traditional Shakespeare scholars who, as she says, ‘rejoice’ in finding factual errors in Shakespeare. Instead, she rejoices in finding the reality that is behind Shakespeare’s work. Her identification of the actual paintings described in the Induction to Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew is a tour de force, but her whole book crackles with the passion of discovery. It is not to be missed.
Michael Delahoyde, Clinical Professor of English at Washington State University, was equally appreciative:
Not only does Noemi Magri assure us that ‘Nothing in Shakespeare is meaningless,’ she shows this to be the case with numerous overlooked or misinterpreted details regarding Shakespeare’s intimate knowledge of Italy: its art, geography, politics, law, etymologies, and more. Collecting Magri’s work into one volume here, Such Fruits Out of Italy is a treasury of Shakespearean discoveries, and a triumph of scholarship.
Sky Gilbert, Associate Professor of Theatre at the University of Guelph in Canada, said, “Noemi Magri’s Such Fruits Out of Italy is a fascinating and scrupulously researched collection of essays that makes an excellent case for the idea that Shakespeare must have visited Italy, not merely read about the country in his source material.”
In tribute to the book’s focus on the aesthetics of the Italian Renaissance, the text has been set in the new digital reproduction of the lost metal typeface of the Doves Press in London (1900-1916), released in 2013. Originally commissioned in 1899 by T.J. Cobden-Sanderson and Emery Walker, punch cutter Edward Prince’s single-sized 16 point type, used in all of the press’s publications, was a key element of the Press’s influence on modern book design. Among its publishing achievements were a five-volume Bible, Milton’s Paradise Lost, Goethe’s Faust, and Emerson’s Essays, plus several Shakespeare works, such as Hamlet, the Sonnets, Julius Cesar and Anthony and Cleopatra.
In 1913 Cobden-Sanderson began to systematically destroy the entire type to prevent Walker, who was suing to liquidate the press after their partnership collapsed, from repossessing and selling it. By 1916 Cobden-Sanderson had thrown more than 2,600 pounds of metal over Hammersmith Bridge into the River Thames. It took British designer Robert Green three years to revive. Laugwitz Verlag has published Such Fruits Out of Italy in this rejuvenated and legendary typeface.
Laugwitz Verlag, a German publisher specializing in the literature of the English Renaissance, is headed by Dr. Uwe Laugwitz. This publiher has brought out German translations of four plays by Christopher Marlowe as well as five Shakespeare plays edited by Frank-Patrick Steckel, including Othello and A Midsummer’s Night Dream in 2014. Their recent critical titles are Shakespeare’s Education by Professor Robin Fox of Rutgers University (2012) and The Lame Storyteller by the late Colonel Peter Moore, US Army (2010).