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JOHN FLORIO’S ITALIAN & ENGLISH SONNETS
Corteous reader, thank you so much for being with me today. My name is Marianna Iannaccone, and I’m an independent scholar, born and raised under a more benign sky. I have a bachelor’s degree in Foreign Languages and Literatures: Drama & Cinema, and a Master’s Degree in Foreign Languages and Literatures. In 2014, during a holiday in the south of France, I discovered the curious figure of John Florio, while reading, in a newspaper, an article about Shakespeare. Soon later, I decided to begin studying his interesting, adventurous life and his pioneering works. I travelled to London and began doing my own research into the subject with documents, manuscripts and letters, which brought me, five years later, to found his official website.
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What mostly drove me to begin this activity was to let people know the extraordinary life this Anglo-Italian man had, and the amazing contribution he gave to English language and literature. Since 2014, I’ve been invited to several events on John Florio, holding conferences, and giving interviews to raise awareness of the importance of his role as a key source for English Renaissance.
I think John Florio has been unjustly overshadowed for many years, and his personality sadly and often distorted. But this is a time for ambitious, innovative works on John Florio, and I think I’m in a place to contribute that.
Which treats of the Italian & English sonnets written anonymously by John Florio during his career.
In 2019, I discovered a sonnet written in English by John Florio, which drove me to expand my research in this field. One year later, I discovered other sonnets, this time written in Italian language. I soon found out, that the practise of writing sonnets was an activity Florio carried on for many years, well known in his inner circle, and that he preferred to partake in anonymously.
The subject was so important and groundbreaking that I decided to write and publish a book about it, in which the subject could be analysed and examined extensively.
The first and most important point concerning this book, is of course, the fact that for the first time, one can fairly attest that John Florio wasn’t only a linguist, translator, and lexicographer, but also an excellent poet, able to pen sonnets in both Italian and English.
While the Italian sonnets are written following the Italian Petrarchan structure, two quatrains and two tercets, the English sonnets are written using hendecasyllables, which reproduce the rhythm of iambic pentameters.
This research is not intended to be absolutely complete; rather, it is only the first step into a new, in-depth, future work on Florio’s less-known activity.
It is my hope that other Florio scholars will show interest in these works, providing further analysis and investigations not only of the sonnets but into Florio’s “practice,” which was, until today, less known to the public.
Each sonnet is preceded by an image of the Sun. But why?
In Giordano Bruno’s De La Causa, Principio, et Uno (1584), John Florio is portrayed as “Elitropio,” a name which Signor Gentile interprets to mean a turning towards the “sun” of Bruno’s philosophy. The same Elitropio, in a dialogue, underlines how not everyone can understand the “sun” of Bruno’s revolutionary theories and philosophy, which shows Florio’s closeness to Bruno and his adherence at his thought.
In A World of Words (1598), John Florio defines Hẻlitrópio as the Turnesoll, Ruds, Waterwort, or Sunne-flowre, which turneth with the Sunne both at rising and going downe. Some take it for the Marigold. Also a precious stone, which as a burning glasse receiueth the Sunne.
The sun’s face which is surrounded by rays is also to be found on the seals of Florio’s will, sealed with “the usuall seale of my armes.”
The same device can be seen on his portrait, just over the head. There can be no doubt that the heliotrope, the sun, are distinguished marks of Florio’s “impresa.”
BANNERS & ORNAMENTS
Each chapter is also decorated with 16th century ornamental banners designed by ClipArt ETC, a part of the Educational Technology Clearinghouse and produced by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology, College of Education, University of South Florida.
WHERE TO BUY THE BOOK
“This book unveils a new, extraordinary side of Florio’s multifaceted personality, a hint that his career as tutor, linguist, and translator was only a fragment of a much intriguing, gifted genius the world needs to recognise.“
Tien Nguyen is an illustrator and graphic designer specializing in digital media and watercolors. She graduated from the University of California – San Diego in 2019 with a degree in speculative design.
The artist, playing with Florio’s name, has designed a flower at the center of the book’s cover, adding a feather, the symbol of the writer’s tool, which makes the book’s title, John Florio’s Italian & English Sonnets, blossom at the heart of the cover.
Intertwined at the edges with leaves and inkblots, it provides a perfect frame for the subject of the book.