The ‘Doubling’ Life of John Florio: Revaluating his Influence on Shakespeare’s Style

Joe Falocco


This essay argues for a re-evaluation of John Florio’s status as a native speaker of Italian and of his influence on Shakespeare. Examining the scant biographical record, the author notes that Florio was born in London, lived in England most of his life, and probably never set foot in Italy.  He suggests that in translating James VI’s Basilicon Doron Florio ‘wrote with an English accent’ through his characteristically British use of synonymic doubling. The author then suggests that Shakespeare’s well-documented penchant for hendiadys likely derived from an emulation of Florio. The essay concludes that, rather than an authentic provider of ‘local colour’ from an Italy that he likely never visited, Florio is better understood as a fellow countryman whose literary style affected the playwright.


Florio; Shakespeare; Italy; Hendiadys

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