chapter  8
16 Pages

Shylock’s Venice and the Grammar of the Modern City

BySergio Costola, Michael Saenger

This chapter argues that the play's earlier critics were largely right to register a degree of unease at the play's realism. Much Ado About Nothing is widely celebrated as one of Shakespeare's most sparkling Italianate comedies. However removed the literary world of Much Ado may have seemed to be at the time, the play blends elements of a more local citywide actuality into its Italianicity. Two of the most prominent foreigners to adopt English nationality in the sixteenth century were Italians: Sir Horatio Palavicino and Benedict Spinola Sir Horatio Palavicino was close to members of both the privy council and the London common council, working alongside fellow Italian merchants such as Spinola and Buonamonte and English traders such as Henry Billingsley and Thomas Cordel. Other Italians more difficult to trace in the historical record were also involved in London's underworld of prostitution.