Well, somebody's been talking about Richard Roe's Shakespeare Guide to Italy (Harper Perennial, Nov. 8, 2011) because last night (Dec. 12, 2011) on Charlie Rose, Royal Shakespeare Company artistic director Michael Boyd inadvertently revealed that Roe's book was on his mind.
Boyd appeared as a guest in Rose's "Why Shakespeare?" series where he happily held forth on the nature of all things Shakespearean. During a discussion of how he chose which Shakespeare plays to direct, Rose asked Boyd if he had to be older to tackle directing King Lear and Boyd responded in the negative.
"Young people can imagine," Boyd said. "Just as an Englishman could imagine Italy in the English Renaissance."
That was it -- no other discussion of imagination or Englishmen or Italy or the Renaissance, not to mention Italian references in Shakespeare or any bedamned books about any such thing.
I cannot imagine that Boyd had read Roe's book; if he had, he might not have been so cavalier in banishing those Italian canals to the realm of pure imagination. But, it sure seemed as if he might have been talking about it.
Should you, dear reader, not be as sanguine as Boyd, you may read two new reviews of Roe's Shakespeare Guide to Italy by
William Neiderkorn in the Dec. 2011 issue of The Brooklyn Rail
John Christian Plummer in the Dec. 10 post of Mark Anderson's Shakespeare by Another Name blog
UPDATE 12/15/11: Francesca V. Mignosa in a Dec. 15, 2011 post on her eponymous blog
UPDATE 1/15/12: http://www.playbill.com/news/article/158596-THE-BOOK-SHELF-Broadway-Musical-MVPs-Funny-Girl-Sex-Drugs-Rock-n-Roll-Musicals-Wicked-and-More/pg2
And if you are so moved, order hard copy of Shakespeare Guide to Italy which is available in Kindle format from Amazon, and can also be ordered to be read on your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Blackberry or Android by downloading Amazon's free Kindle software.