*Roe, Richard Paul.
The Shakespeare Guide to Italy: Retracing the Bard’s Unknown Travels. HarperPerennial: HarperCollins. Nov. 2011. c.320p. illus. maps. bibliog. ISBN 9780062074263. pap. $19.99. LIT
For this literary journey through Shakespeare’s ten plays set in Italy, Roe, an English and history scholar and an attorney who died in 2010, explored the places that inspired many of Shakespeare’s classics and presents a solid argument that Shakespeare was well traveled. Roe spent over 20 years traveling throughout Italy with Shakespeare plays in hand. The thrill of discovery he felt throughout his quest leaps off the page and makes for an accessible read. The connections he draws among the plays and locales are backed up with pictures, maps, literary references, and well-documented arguments. Particularly striking is Roe’s argument that A Midsummer Night’s Dream is not set in Greece, as traditionally accepted, but in a small town in Italy. VERDICT A fascinating look at a largely untouched aspect of Shakespeare’s identity and influences. Recommended for Shakespeare enthusiasts and scholars as well as travelers looking for a new perspective, this is also particularly intriguing as a companion to specific plays.—Katie Lawrence, Chicago