john florio
THE RENAISSANCE OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE & JOHN FLORIO

THE RENAISSANCE OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE & JOHN FLORIO

The “Ayde of his Muses?” – The Renaissance of John Florio and William Shakespeare

Jeremy Lester

Abstract

Jeremy Lester’s essay focuses on John Florio, arguing a far deeper implication of the prominent linguist and translator of Montaigne in the production of the Shakespearean oeuvre than previously thought. Although known by specialists, until not long ago, Florio was considered a secondary figure within the intellectual and artistic panorama of the Elizabethan and Jacobean times. After examining closely the life and works of Florio in accordance with Lamberto Tassinari’s book John Florio. The Man Who Was Shakespeare (Giano Books, 2009), Lester discusses the case of British scholar Saul Frampton of Westminster University who in two feature articles published in the London Guardian in July and August, 2013, asserted that John Florio was the editor-in-chief of Shakespeare’s collected plays (the First Folio, 1623). According to Frampton, this role allowed him to “censor,”“change” or “supplement” the original works of Shakespeare. Ben Jonson, the main instigator in the publication of the First Folio, was also a close friend and devotee of Florio, of whom he states in a dedication to a copy of his Volpone, that he was “an Ayde of his Muses.” Analyzing Tassinari’s theory, Lester comes to the conclusion that Florio, more than the editor and “Ayde” to the Bard, has a very good claim to be considered the author under the pseudonym Shakespeare. Tassinari’s book, now translated into French with the title John Florio alias Shakespeare (Le Bord de L’Eau, 2016), is sparking an animated debate within the French media. __________________________________________________________________________________________

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