03 December 2007

Shakespeare in Venice

Over the weekend I had the great pleasure of meeting an author about whom I have wondered for a few years – Alberto Toso Fei. A true Venetian, he has written some fascinating books about Venice and her many legends. I have all these books, but I most enjoyed Venetian Legends and Ghost Stories because it was translated into English. Fei, a gifted writer, outlines itineraries (with good maps!) for seeking out the ghosts in their haunted habitats. The black-and-white photographs he chooses are chilling in a beautiful way, and his sidebars are nifty factoids that I enjoy casually dropping when I chat with people who are new to Venice. In fact, this little volume played a big role in pushing me to actually live in Venice. (See November post “Fantasmi.”)

And now, with co-author Shaul Bassi, he has written Shakespeare in Venice - a new book that imagines what may have influenced The Bard if/when he visited Venice in the “lost years,” what may have inspired him to scribble The Merchant of Venice and Othello. An absolutely delicious read, and even better if you're here to re-trace his steps!

Lucky me! – Saturday the author was having his lunch and pecking away on his Mac laptop (same model as mine!) at Chioschetta. He looked vaguely British in his corduroys, and I noticed he was packing Shakespeare in Venice in his briefcase, so I initiated a chat. Imagine my thrill to learn that he was not merely reading the same book I am – he is the very subject of my curiosity! And a handsome, charming man as well: he gallantly accepted the guilt for my move to Italy.

Tonight the co-authors presented their new book, with the assistance of a pair of actors and a guitarist in a vaulted, blackened stone room of the Prigione Nuove. Can you imagine how delighted I was to be there?