The Italian Job

'Almost no Oxfordian argument has wasted more bandwidth than Will's knowledge of Italy. The arguments have a unique brand of silliness all their own. We revisited this subject here.


It was inevitable that we would need to look at the work of Richard Paul Roe at some time. After losing a game of 'who knows the most famous Icelanders' it has fallen to me.

 

Like Diana Price, Roe disingenuously decided to 'withhold' any personal preference for actual candidates in the authorship question, preferring to concentrate on the accuracy of the geography of the Italian plays.  It does, however, neatly absolve him from the need to explain some big inconsistencies such as the presence of inland waterways which might plausibly allow Shakespeare's characters to sail between inland destinations which have totally implausible tides which they are hurrying to catch. Not only do canals not have tides, there are no tides anywhere in the Mediterranean area, something visitors tend to observe.

Roe decides not to engage in Oxfordian argument and limit his contribution to proving that Shakespeare went to Italy. There could, of course, be creditable motives for this. Tying actual places named in the plays to real Italian locations, could almost certainly (favourite Oxfordian phrase) prove (another) that the author had visited Italy. 


sycamore

Possible location of the wrong tree, up which Oxfordians like to bark

There are, however, three problems inherent in his argument, especially if it is intended to support De Vere (and since destinations not included in De Vere's trip of 1574/5 do not appear to feature, assumptions beg to be assumed).  

Tranectomy

tranectHours, weeks, even months have been spent arguing about Proteus and Portia's route-planning and what its accuracy or inaccuracy reveals. The first thing to say is that above all the geographical explanations, there exists the overarching possibility that Will had only vague ideas of the exact layout and governance of the Veneto and didn't really give a toss whether he was being accurate or not.

Time and distance are both often ruthlessly compressed in Will's work, like an artist's perspective on a broad landscape. To get to Belmont and back for his suit, Bassanio needed Shylock's money for three months. How does this time actually elapse in the play? Not on a journey to Belmont and back, that's for sure. How much more likely is it that Will fiddled with his source material without giving much thought to where Belmont was or how long it would take to get there?  The three months were what we would now call 'virtual months' or 'stage months'.

The distance used by Oxfordians, headed by Magri and Roe, to uncover the location of Belmont is twenty miles.

Twenty miles is a virtual distance, which chimes with all the other uses of 'twenty' by Portia and her Belmont chums. 

The best among us??

Despite the oft-quoted extracts from Francis Meres and George Puttenham, no one has ever actually claimed that Oxford was a playwright outside the heated confines of the authorship debate. 

Francis Meres made one mention of Oxford in Palladis Tamia, listing Oxford as 'the best for comedy' amongst several writers, some of whom, like Dr Gager, we know little about.