Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Shakespeare and Italy 6 - Taming Shrew Padua Lombardy Baptista

4A. Roe’s 4th chapter is on the evidence found in The Taming of the Shrew. One of the first interesting points he brings up and resolves is the confusion over Lucentio’s route. At the beginning of Act 1, Scene 1 Lucentio says:
Tranio, since for the great desire I had
To see fair Padua, nursery of arts,
I am arriv’d for fruitful Lombardy,
The pleasant garden of great Italy.

The problem is that Padua is east of Lombardy and within the Veneto territory of Venice. Attempts to emend ‘for’ have included changing it to ‘in’ which again didn’t make sense since that kept him in Lombardy but not in Padua where he had arrived. Another attempt at revision had “am arriv’d for” interpreted as “am on my way to”. But that wasn’t accurate either.

Since Lucentio later said in the same speech that “I have Pisa left and am to Padua come”, Roe examined if there was an actual route that one could take from Pisa and then travel through Lombardy on one’s way to Padua. And he found such a route. So he suggested the emendation of ‘from’ to replace ‘for’. Knowing that there have been found around 350 typographical errors in this play (this is taken from Waugh’s article) this suggested emendation is totally rational. This then made sense for actual travel from Pisa to Padua and so again showed the author’s deeper knowledge of Italy’s geography and its various travel routes.

4B. Next of importance is where exactly Lucentio has landed in Padua. He says:

If, Biondello, thou wert come ashore,
We could at once put us in readiness,
And take a lodging fit to entertain
Such friends as time in Padua shall beget.

Some editors have concluded that this meant that Shakespeare was imagining that Padua had a harbor. Actually, Shakespeare seems to have had an exact understanding of a realistic location for a traveler such as Lucentio to come ashore. Roe found the most logical water route to a landing (called a ‘road’) close by a sensible location for the home of the Baptistas who were about to enter the scene. The ‘road’ landing is still there today. It is near a parish church called ‘Saint Luke’s’, such as mentioned in the play.

There is also a cluster of buildings by the landing, in front of which, as mentioned, Baptista and his daughters Bianca and Kate could converse. Then a bridge from there over the water to where the St. Luke’s was located. And most importantly, Roe found an old drawing from 1718, showing that right next to this landing was also an hostel, though there called an “Osteria” for “hostelry” or “inn”.  Remember that Lucentio says that as soon as Biondello has come ashore at the road they could ‘at once’ take their lodging, as at the Hostell next to it that Roe found on the map. This is hardly something that a non-travelled Englishman would just be able to invent in the imagination and have it accurately match a real location in the very city he chose to set the play!

And as it so happens, Francis Bacon would be well aware of these hostels there as his closest friend Tobie Matthew seems to have stayed at them. Matthews writes to Bacon in one letter from “L’Hostell de Venice”. On his way there Matthew would also likely have stayed at another hostell in Padua.

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