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“Shakespeare is - let us put it this way - the least English of English writers. The typical quality of the English is understatement, saying a little less than what you see. In contrast, Shakespeare tended toward the hyperbolic metaphor, and it would come to us as no surprise to learn that Shakespeare had been Italian, or Jewish, for instance.” Jorge Luis Borges, Borges oral, 1979

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John Florio, The Man who was Shakespeare
Published by Giano Books in (2009) and in 2013 as an eBook available here.

At the very beginning of the Shakespearian 400th Anniversary, my book on John Florio, the real Shakespeare , published in France will be launched February 2nd at the P.E.N. Club in Paris. The book “John Florio alias Shakespeare”, translated in French by Michel Vaïs, is published by Le Bord de l’Eau.

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The Black Swan of Tiber

Dr. Donatella Montini is a black swan in the field of Shakespearean studies in Italy as she’s one of the rare Italian contemporary scholars, if not the only one, who has a notable interest in John Florio and his relationship to Shakespeare. Her article John Florio and Shakespeare: Life and Language, published in “Memoria di Shakespeare a Journal of Shakespearean Studies, 2/2015” decisively deserves to be commented if not commended. I will do that in Italian which is Donatella’s and my mother tongue, without forgetting that it was also Shakespeare’s father tongue and perhaps his mother’s as well…

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La véritable identité de Shakespeare (Entrevue à Radio-Canada, 13 juin 2016)

Lamberto Tassinari, philosophe italo-canadien et auteur de John Florio, alias Shakespeare, est accompagné de Michel Vaïs, qui a traduit le livre, et nous parle de cette recherche de l'identité véritable de Shakespeare. L'ambiguïté autour de l'identité du légendaire dramaturge perdure depuis le tout début de sa notoriété; Tassinari croit avoir trouvé la réponse : un homme d'origine italienne installé à Londres à l'époque, lexicographe et traducteur de Montaigne.

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Shakespeare, lecteur de Foucault (Juin 2016)

Parmi les milliers de livres que Shakespeare a lus, il y a Qu'est-ce qu'un auteur ?, la fameuse conférence que Michel Foucault a prononcée devant les membres de la Société française de philosophie le 22 février 1969 à Paris. Que l’homme de Stratford ait pu avoir accès à ce texte constitue un mystère que même un biographe du Barde aussi érudit et inventif que Stephen Greenblatt n’a pas pu percer.

[lire la suite]

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Shakespeare's identity at play:What if he was really an Italian immigrant to London named John Florio? (The Montreal Gazette, April 23, 2016)

The Gazette Cover Page ThumbYou know the official story: WilliamShakespeare was an actor from Stratford-upon-Avon. As a young man he moved to London, ran a theatre, wrote at least 38 plays and a profusion of poems, and made enough money to retire early. He died in Stratford on April 23, 1616 – four centuries ago on Saturday – leaving his “second best bed” to his wife in a dry, unliterary will.

What if the official story is wrong?

[The Montreal Gazette Article]

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On January 9th 2016 the French newspaper Le Monde , published my article Le célèbre « Barde de Stratford » n’est pas celui qu’on croit! alongside David Cameron Shakespearian celebration. John Florio, a step away from London, is knocking resolutely at England’s door asking for a long denied recognition.

[actual publication] [original text]

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À Bruxelles, le quotidien La Libre Belgique a consacré un dossier à la question shakespearienne en publiant deux points de vue opposés sur le Barde, celui, orthodoxe, de Guido Latré, professeur de littérature anglaise à l’Université de Louvain et le mien sur John Florio alias Shakespeare.

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Un journaliste vénézuélien a fait écho à la parution du livre en France :

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OPEN LETTER to Stephen Greenblatt

You asked me recently why I maintain that I am afraid of you. As usual, I was unable to think of any answer to your question, partly for the very reason that I am afraid of you, and partly because an explanation of the grounds for this fear would mean going into far more details than I could even approximately keep in mind while talking. Franz

Montréal 17 September, 2014

Dear professor Greenblatt,

Yes, this is the incipit of Kafka’s letter to his father. Why do I quote here this powerful, cruel confession? Because my little letter too is about authority, power, fear and love of art. You are the indisputable authority of the Shakespearean studies and ipso facto, the keystone of the grand, albeit crumbling Stratfordian edifice.

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Vendetta is an Italian dish better served cold.
Many years later, I’m serving this to Mr. Scott McCrea a Shakespearian specialist who reviewed my book for Comparative Drama in Spring 2010. My vendetta is displayed in the appropriate section of the site.

[go to Scholarspotting]

Suddenly, in 2013 a British scholar opens to John Florio

On July 12, 2013 Saul Frampton published in The Guardian the first part of a long article Who Edited Shakespeare? and a second part on August 10 titled In search of Shakespeare’s dark lady which open a new chapter in Shakespearian studies. Saul Frampton teaches at the University of Westminster, Department of English, Linguistics and Cultural Studies. He is module leader for Reading the American Dream and Early Modern Identities. Four years after my book John Florio The Man Who Was Shakespeare was published in 2009, Frampton dares to establish, first time in the main stream a dangerous liaison between the linguist and translator of Jewish-Italian origin and the vacuous figure of the Stratford actor-moneylender-playwright. Of course Saul Frampton, doesn’t mention my work on Florio. However he expresses opinions as original and heretical as mine! He also announces his forthcoming book on Shakespeare and Florio. Thanks to Frampton “my” John Florio has now stepped into the foreground as the editor of the greatest writer in the English language. This would be a great honor in any case, even if I had not already shown that Florio deserves the title of author!


John Florio, an Elizabethan writer and courtier unknown to Shakespeare’s readers, forgotten or ignored by scholars, a gifted translator, linguist and propagator of Italian, French and Spanish languages and cultures in the England of the Tudors and Stuarts assumes his true identity as the author of the plays and poems attributed to a Stratford actor, William Shackespeare or Shakespere. In 1623, the thirty-six plays written by John Florio were collected under his pen name Shakespeare and attributed to the actor. Since then, the greatest dramatic work of modernity has been associated to the insignificant life of an illiterate man. So goes history at times.

Why has this great Elizabethan, John Florio, been forgotten by scholars? There must be something rotten within the kingdom of Shakespearean Studies… John Florio, the son of an Italian protestant preacher with Jewish forebears exiled to London in 1550, opens a fascinating perspective : a fully European Shakespeare, a powerful transcultural writer, a unique linguist, an omnipresent courtier. Florio was the first translator in English of Montaigne’ Essays and Boccaccio’s Decameron, the author of the first, “grand” Italian-English dictionary in 1598, the personal secretary of Queen Anne from 1603 to her death in 1619, the tutor, friend and protégé of the Earl of Southampton and of William Herbert 3d Earl of Pembroke, the friend of Giordano Bruno and more…

Shakespeare is about to assume his true identity, that of John Florio, who defined himself Italian in speech, English at heart. The book reconstructs with rigour and passion the marvelous metamorphosis through which John Florio became the Bard on the banks of the Thames. A Shakespeare “made in Europe” shows us that the birth of the modern world possesses a richness and a complexity that fills one with awe.

The site offers:
The Introduction, excerpts and links to John Florio’s major works and his will which is compared to the meager one of the man from Stratford.

>> Read the Introduction

Caravaggio, St MatthewFifteen Reasons for John Florio, The Man Who Was Shakespeare

John Florio added more than a thousand new words to the English language, showing a linguistic creativity identical to the one attributed to William Shakespeare. Furthermore, Florio compiled the first Italian/English dictionary, its 1611 edition contained 74,000 Italian words and 150,000 English words, one third more Italian words than the prestigious Accademi a della Crusca’s dictionary published in 1612 in Florence. Frances Yates, author of Florio’s biography (1934), defines Florio’s dictionary as the epitome of the era’s culture. (…)

John Florio and his father Michel Angelo, the son of converted Jews, a former Franciscan monk who then became Protestant are Italians; two erudite scholars like few at that time in England. They possessed a vast knowledge of the arts, science and literature, ranging from theology to botany, medicine to falconry and law to seamanship. An encyclopedic knowledge which Shakespeare clearly commanded. Few knew European literature like John Florio, who having read them in the original languages (Italian, French and Spanish) also taught them.

On the cusp between the Jewish traditions of his ancestors, the Catholic religion of his father Michel Angelo, and finally, his conversion to Protestantism. It is this vast “confusion” of John Florio’s faiths and sacred scriptures which coincides with Shakespeare’s beliefs.

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