"I have translated from the English". Shakespeare in Eighteenth-Century Italy
In eighteenth-century Italy negative responses to Shakespeare’s plays are not to be found exclusively in matters of aesthetics, but in the country’s political and cultural subordination to France. It is not surprising, then, that a new strand in the reception of Shakespeare in Italy could only really begin when the death of Voltaire (1778) and the geographical redefinition of part of the central Europe encouraged Italian intellectuals to reconsider France’s role as a ‘necessary’ cultural(-historical) mediator. The robust reappraisal of Shakespeare that took place in the last two decades of the century was indeed deeply involved with the different responses that were prompted by the socio-political context and the gradual shattering of libertarian ideals. In this context, the work of an unconventional translator, Giustina Renier Michiel, definitively hustled the gradual reappraisal of Shakespeare’s plays in Italy. Her translations of specific Shakespearean plays are as the repositories of ideological, political, and social messages sent by a Venetian woman to her fellow-citizens struggling to position themselves in a new geographical and political panorama.
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