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According to this new, unofficial script of Venetian identity, Othello discovers himself the simultaneous victim of a double cognitive deficiency, as a foreigner and as a husband. Iago has convinced his general that while Desdemona may still be a faithful wife, he is not yet a 1 William Shakespeare, Othello Arden 3 , edited by E. Othello will be ready to commit the most extreme acts, murder and suicide, out of the desperate desire to master this disposition and, in the same breath, his wife. But of course his efforts will be vain, because the inner sanctuary of Venetian identity, as envisioned by Iago, is empty.

The obvi- ous premise is that several plays by Shakespeare are adaptated from Italian sources; the additional context is the constant presence of Shakespeare in Italian culture from the mid-nineteenth century on. These repositionings of Shakespeare share some inspiring analogies with the postcolonial appropriations analyzed by Thomas Cartelli. See also Gary Taylor, Reinventing Shakespeare. BASSI colonial spaces turned into nation-states with imperial ambitions. Italy has been for centuries less a stable national and political entity than a work in progress, with all its internal contradictions and dissonances, an ideal aspiration troubling, obsessing, and frustrating its advocates and supporters as well as its opponents.

Situated at the borders of East and West, Europe and Africa, struggling for centuries to define itself, always oscillating between freedom and oppression, experiencing democracy and tyranny, enforcing and suffering colonialism, negotiating modernity and tradition, Italy is marked by a history of political fragmentation, haunted by the memory of its ancient Roman past, strongly identified with the Catholic Church and yet striving to distinguish itself from it.

Occupied for centuries by several foreign regimes, when it acquired independence, it turned in succession into a parliamentary monarchy, a fascist dictatorship that established a short-lived empire, and eventually into a democratic republic.


Today it is the southernmost frontier of Europe in a geopo- litical crisis characterized by unprecedented mass migrations from Africa and Asia. The various stories told in this book analyze the reverberations of these various political circumstances in the coeval appropriations of Shakespeare. The territory is vast and there is no attempt at a comprehensive survey. This book deals with criticism, adaptations, performance, and film, but hardly mentions opera and, in most cases, it looks at the margins rather than at the center.

Italians have interrogated themselves and their collective identity as part of their long struggle for national unity, and, more recently, in their longing for an accomplished democracy.

Shakespeare and Italy: D'Amico

For foreign observers, especially citizens of the Anglosphere, Italy has long been a real and imaginary place, a mirror and a refuge, and a screen where a wide array of negative and positive stereotypes is projected. Italophobia and Italophilia have ancient roots and sometimes coexist in the same viewer, as is probably the case with Shakespeare.

In Imagology. The cultural construction and literary representation of national characters: a critical survey.

BASSI the understanding of most evident things. The relationship between Shakespeare and Italy has produced a wealth of critical work. Jaki The Hague: Mouton, , 69— Tragedia del Sig. This experimental set of read- ings aims to ask what special relations might obtain between the Italy of Shakespeare and the Italy of a certain line of modern thought, as mediated above all by the work of Machiavelli.

Try to get outside them… capers and somersaults …. A minor detail speaks eloquently: the very name Shakespeare remains difficult to pronounce for Italians. BASSI of anglophilia, Italy has never seen English language and literature as central to its culture, and Shakespeare was initially received through translations and critical interpretations made in France and, to a lesser extent, Germany. The most elusive and yet decisive factor in the reception of Shakespeare may be a general cultural disposition toward the tragic.

There was indeed a revival of the genre after centuries of neglect, but theory held sway.

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Tragedy was too much of a challenge for the small and embattled courts of a politically fragmented country, courts that were the only patrons of theater and favored the inside jokes of comedy much as it could also convey harsh political satire 22 over the foreboding plots of tragedy and its representation of beleaguered rulers. The postwar era has witnessed a steady rise of Shakespeare performances, scholarship, and translations. At the time of completing this book, Europe was shaken by its worst economic and political crisis, a continental emergency that was nevertheless mostly framed, often to the point of caricature, in a face-off between Greece and Germany.

In that respect, William Shakespeare, who may become in , on the th anniversary of his death, the first poet laureate of Europe and who can claim the record of the most attempts by other countries to appropriate him as one of their own, becomes an extraordinary guide. I use this term, coined in the realm of fiction and later adopted into the discourse of political science and international relations, to signify a loose consensus and inter- connectedness of English-speaking culture that is inevitably reflected in Shakespeare criticism. Centered first on London and then on Washington DC, the Anglosphere has dominated international politics for the world for the past years, perhaps longer.

Its agents—companies, empires, states, as nations— colonized and industrialized large swathes of the planet and moved millions of its inhabit- ants, often by force. Most noteworthy among them were Tommaso Salvini , Ernesto Rossi and Eleonora Duse, who perfected distinctive acting styles — the latter restrained and subtle, the first two powerful, physical, and "vividly expressive", as Henry James remarked after watching Salvini play the character role in Othello in Boston in Like Verdi's operatic tradition, these actors contributed to the export of an Italianised Shakespeare to continental Europe, north America and back to England.

And the love affair between Italy and Shakespeare continues. Worth mentioning are two current offerings of Shakespeare "made in Italy". What better tribute to Sam Wanamaker's modern reconstruction, and the young Italian company performing Julius Caesar as part of the Globe to Globe season, than a few lines from Agostino Lombardo's splendid translation for Giorgio Strehler's famous 80s production of The Tempest? O meraviglia!

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This article contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. All our journalism is independent and is in no way influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative. By clicking on an affiliate link, you accept that third-party cookies will be set. More information. Anyone who claims Shakespeare's poetry is lost in translation might have to think again. She is the editor of World-Wide Shakespeares: Local Appropriations in Film and Performance and is now working on a book on intercultural Shakespeare This article contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase.

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