Sunday, August 05, 2007

"Shakespeare" and Cervantes, paths crossed

(Creative Commons images by inicioutil and fdrca'n'dave)

As blogged about last month, the recently completed Spanish movie Miguel and William (IMDB reports no U.S.
release date yet) rewrites history in order for Shakespeare
and Cervantes to meet

The supposition is pretty outlandish, if the conventional story of Shakespeare holds. But here's yet another amazing curio of de Vere's life: There are threads of biographical evidence that do in fact put de Vere and Cervantes in approximately the same place at the same time.

In the summer of 1575, de Vere was 25 years old traveling through Italy, while the still obscure and unpublished Cervantes was a soldier garrisoned in Naples. Record exists of de Vere taking out a loan that summer in Naples. And when de Vere returned to England the following year, he allegedly bragged about the valor he demonstrated on the battlefield with Cervantes' commanding officer, Don John.

Cervantes's juvenile poetry is known to have impressed another commanding officer, in Palermo, the Duke of Sessa. De Vere is known to have passed through Palermo -- and as a visiting foreign dignitary, would likely have met Sessa.

So the route for Cervantes in the late summer of 1575 was Naples to Palermo to a ship bound for Spain. (Turks overtook that ship, and instead Cervantes spent the next five hellish years as a slave.) The most likely route for de Vere during that same period was Palermo to Naples and onward to Milan.

I certainly wouldn't claim this constitutes proof of the two figures meeting. But it does bring their worlds tantalizingly close to colliding at a formative moment in both of their lives. Miguel y William filmmaker Inés Paris appears to be closer to the historical truth than she may realize. She's just going to need to recast the role of the man who was the Bard.