Friday, April 2, 2021

Shakespeare's Spaniards

Often people make much of the fact that many of Shakespeare's comedies are set in Italy, a convention of early-modern English comedies which derives largely from Tudor playwrights' important models, the works of the first-century Roman playwrights Plautus and Terence. In plays like The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Romeo and Juliet, or The Taming of the Shrew, you won't find much evidence that Shakespeare knew many actual Italians, or, much less, had ever visited Italy, despite all his Hortensios and Petruccios and Benvolios. Usually his "Italian" characters seem like English folk (though this is not always the case: in England, Italians had a reputation for