We may add another name to the long list of candidates who —say an underwhelming body of fringe scholars— must have written the works of William Shakespeare. The list so far includes the 17th Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere; philosopher and writer, Francis Bacon; playwright, Christopher Marlowe; playwright, Ben Jonson; Sir Walter Raleigh; and Queen Elizabeth I. My personal favorite is Marlowe because he would have had to fake his death in a tavern brawl in 1593 and then to have written under a pseudonym for reasons that we are not at liberty to reveal, but "thereby hangs a tale!" I don’t really have a dog in this fight. I’m just glad that someone wrote the works of Shakespeare, the same way I’m glad that someone wrote Mozart’s Piano Concerto n. 21, even if it was his butcher.
Anyway, the fringe arguments against Shakespeare can be hastily boiled down to these: he didn’t have enough education, and he couldn’t possibly have known all that stuff about Italy that whoever wrote Romeo and Juliet, Othello, Two Gentlemen of Verona, A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Merchant of Venice clearly knew.
the first part, how could the poorly educated son of a
glove maker have written Hamlet? I don’t know. I also don't know
how a poorly educated bastard could have painted The Last Supper (when
he wasn’t designing helicopters). Or how a lackadaisical
student could have come up with the Theory of Relativity.
Maybe some people are just good at things. Interestingly,
at least one other under-educated dolt, Mark Twain, was on
the fringe side in this debate (in Is Shakespeare Dead?),
but no one seems to know if the Bard of Hannibal really
believed any of that or if he was just being an ornery
For the second part, Shakespeare had ample recourse to such things as the Palace of Pleasure by William Painter, a collection of Painter’s translations of “Pleasant Histories and excellent Novelles…out of divers good and commendable authors...” that provide the Italian settings and plots for much Elizabethan drama. The collection was cobbled together by Painter from many Italian sources including Boccaccio, Gian Francesco Straparola, and Matteo Bandello. And traditional scholarship points out the obvious: Shakespeare’s contemporaries say(!) he wrote the works we attribute to him.
most recent theory is that Shakespeare was a Sicilian!
Professor Martino Iuvara,
71, a retired teacher of literature, claims (in Shakespeare era Italiano,
pub. Ispica. Ragusa, Sicily, 2002) that the Bard was
really Michelangelo Florio Crollalanza, born in Messina in
1564 to a doctor, Giovanni Florio, and a noblewoman named
Guglielma Crollalanza. The parents had Calvinist
sympathies and fled with their infant son to Treviso, near
Venice, to escape the Inquisition. There they bought Casa
Otello, built by a retired Venetian mercenary called
Otello (Othello) who, according to local legend, had
killed his wife out of jealousy. The young bard-to-be then
studied in Venice, Padua, and Mantua, and travelled in
Denmark, Greece, Spain, and Austria. He was befriended by
the philosopher, Giordano Bruno, who, says Iuvara, had
ties with William Herbert, the Earl of Pembroke, and the
Earl of Southampton. In 1588, at age 24, Michelangelo went
to England under their patronage. His mother, Guglielma
Crollalanza, had an English cousin at Stratford, who took
the boy in. The Stratford branch had already translated
their name as Shakespeare, and had a son called William,
who died prematurely. Michelangelo, says Iuvara, took the
name for himself, becoming William Shakespeare.
As one who has taught English as a Foreign Language to thousands of young Italians, I don't think a 24-year-old EFL learner could have written, But thy eternal summer shall not fade/ Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;/ Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,/When in eternal lines to time thou growest:/So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,/So long lives this and this gives life to thee. (Or maybe I just had the wrong students.) Also, it is curious that the professor says the name ‘Shakespeare’ is a translation of the Italian surname, Crollalanza. Crollare equals ‘break,’ says he, and lanza comes from lancia, meaning ‘spear.’ The only thing Shake-y here is the prof’s English. Crollare does not mean ‘shake.' Scrollare (with the initial s) means 'shake.' Crollare means ‘collapse’ and by squeaky, generous extension, ‘break’. Thus, maybe we are looking for ‘Breakspeare.’ Is there such a name as Breakspeare? Of course. For two, Nicholas Breakspeare, the one and only English Pope (from 1154 to 1159), and his (maybe) cousin, Boso, (pronounced ‘Bozo.’ I’m not kidding—Bozo Breakspeare), who was a cardinal.
the spirit of the German woman who once assured me that
"sein oder nicht sein..."
(to be or not to be) was by Goethe, I offer up a
compromise solution: Crollalanza moved to England and
became the Pope 500 years earlier. And Goethe? Not a
chance. Hoping against hope, I shall now google every
German phone book I can find to look for the name
Schaukellanze or Schaukelspeer. You see, I have this