Shakespeare’s Narrative Sources: Italian Novellas and Their European Dissemination

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet parting on the balcony in Act III by Ford Madox Brown, 1870.

Modernised Q1

Modernised Q2

Guide to the Intertextual Map

This intertextual map is designed to help the user navigate through the main Italian sources of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, as well as their translations and adaptations, including their hypotexts, hypertexts, and analogues. By clicking on the authors’ names you will jump to the editions contained in the archive. The only displayed text which has not been transcribed is the anonymous Jacobean dramatisation in Neo-Latin of Arthur Brooke’s poem, which can be accessed here.

What is not displayed falls into three categories:

  1. Ancient analogues: texts which were not generally known in the early modern period (unlike, for instance, the Pyramus and Thisbe story), and/or which can be better regarded as modelling narrative archetypes, e.g. the fragmentary Pamphylus and Eurydike  and Parthenius’ Love Romances (1st century BC), and the Roman-Hellenistic romances (in particular, Chariton’s Chaereas and Callirhoe, Xenophon’s Ephesian Tales, Iamblichus’ Babylonian Tales, and Antonius Diogenes’s The Unbelievable Things Beyond Thule).
  2. Lost texts: a) a lost tragedy adapting the Romeo and Juliet story by Château-Vieux alias Cosme de la Gambe performed at the French court c. 1560; b) the no longer Romeo and Juliet play to which Arthur Brooke refers in the prefatory epistle, and of which we know nothing (it may have been based on Da Porto, and/or Bandello, and/or Boaistuau).
  3. Analogues which are not relevant to the texts circulating in Elizabethan England: however, since they may be of interest to users working on the European dissemination of the Italian narratives in the sixteenth and early seventeenth century, we provide the following links.
  • France: Adrien Sevin’s ‘L’histoire moderne de Haquadrich et Burglipha’ in Le Philocope (1542), which loosely adapts/reinvents Da Porto’s version; Jean de Marconville’s abridged adaptation of the story published in 1564; Louis Guyon’s summary of the story first published in 1604.
  • Spain: Juan Vicente de Millis’ translation of Boaistuau and Belleforest’s novellas (first published in 1589); Los amantes de Berona, a play attributed to Cristóbal de Rozas (1607, first published in 1666); Lope de Vega’s tragicomedy Castelvines y Monteses (c. 1609, published in 1647) ; Don Francisco de Rojas y Zorrilla’s dramatic adaptation Los bandos de Verona (published in 1648).
  • Low Countries: Jacob Strujis’ (or Struys’) play Romeo en Juliette (c. 1630, first published in 1634).
  • Germany: Georg Philipp Harsdörfer’s novella Die verzweifelte Liebe (first published in 1649); Romio und Julieta, a play written in the context of the plays performed by the English travelling companies, preserved in a late seventeenth-century manuscript.

Caption: main narrative sources, hypotexts, hypertexts, analogues