Practices of Collaboration in Early Modern Theatre: Authors, Printers, Playhouses, and Their Texts – 02-04 December 2021 Online conference – University of Passau, DE and University of Luxembourg, LUX.
This paper examines the less-known role of John Florio as active collaborator in theatre from the first period of his career as author of language lesson manuals, until his association with important literary patrons like the third Earl of Southampton and Queen Anne of Denmark. I clarify how Florio’s hybrid identity as translator and go-between gave him both the power to readapt Italian works, but it also exposed him to several dangers and criticism, leading him to work mainly as ghostwriter. By examining different far-fetched interpretations concerning his presence in Shakespeare’s plays, this paper aims to demonstrate that the involvement of the Anglo-Italian is much more important than has hitherto been guessed. The method used is a stylistic-linguistic analysis of Love’s Labour’s Lost and the sources used in the play, which corroborates the hypothesis that Florio’s involvement in this work is the result of a collaboration between the two writers. This dissertation challenges both the role of Shakespeare as the icon of the solo creator, and that of John Florio as mere supplier of basic information about Italian folklore, presenting a new, much more interesting and intriguing picture of Shakespeare’s writing practice, which involved both translation and re-adaptation.