Shakespeare’s “debt” to Montaigne may be more properly seen as his debt to John Florio.
This paper by Philip Hendrick (University of Ulster) looks in detail at those sections of Florio’s translation of Des Cannibales that may have had an influence on The Tempest. His translation has been generally praised for its colour, its verve and its reflection of aspects of the style of Montaigne. It also expresses some ideas that were commonly held in Elizabethan England, but which were not in the original Montaigne text. While all translations interpret, modify and sometimes falsify the text translated, Florio appears at first sight to follow the text of the Essais with great fidelity. However, close analysis of his translation reveals that in some questions, particularly the issue of colonialism, Florio imposes his own perspectives, assumptions and values on the essay being translated. The question of Shakespeare’s “debt” to Montaigne, and the question of colonialist discourse in The Tempest, may therefore be more properly seen as his debt to Florio.
Philip Hendrick teaches French at the University of Ulster in Londonderry. His main area of research is Montaigne, particularly his translation of Sebond’s Theologia Naturalis. His book Montaigne et Sebond: l’art de la Traduction was published in 1996 and he has completed his commentary on the translation for a bilingual edition of the work, with Claude Blum and Jaume de Puig. This collaborative venture will be published in the near future. He is now working on a book on English translations of Montaigne’s Essais: The Meaning of Montaigne; English translations of the Essais from Florio to Screech. He has also written several articles on Montaigne.
Source: Philip Hendrick, « Montaigne, Florio and Shakespeare: the mediation of colonial discourse », Actes des congrès de la Société française Shakespeare [En ligne], 21 | 2004, mis en ligne le 31 janvier 2007, consulté le 06 mai 2019.
URL : http://journals.openedition.org/shakespeare/164 ; DOI : 10.4000/shakespeare.164
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