‘two and fortie houres’
Did Shakespeare know Bandello?
in Shakespeare for the wiser sort
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By patient examination of the original Italian text of Matteo Bandello this chapter offers evidence that William Shakespeare had read the story of doomed lovers in the Novelle, and perhaps in Luigi da Porto's 1530 version, too. It shows that Shakespeare is not the first author to carefully link the events in this fictional story of star-crossed lovers to actual dates, holy days, and lunisolar events in a specific calendar year. The chapter also shows that Bandello reworked da Porto's story to conform the action to the solar and liturgical calendars of AD 1302. It suggests that Shakespeare's close reading of Bandello may have inspired Shakespeare to exploit the tale of Romeo and Juliet to interrogate the Gregorian reform of 1582 by linking events in his tragedy to actual dates and holy days in that topsy-turvy year.

Shakespeare for the wiser sort

Solving Shakespeare’s riddles in The Comedy of Errors, Romeo and Juliet, King John, 1–2 Henry IV, The Merchant of Venice, Henry V, Julius Caesar, Othello, Macbeth and Cymberline


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