Luigi Da Porto

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Frontispiece of Giulietta e Romeo from 1530. by Luigi da Porto

Luigi Da Porto (Vicenza, 1485 – May 10, 1529) was an Italian writer and storiographer, better known as the author of the novel Novella novamente ritrovata with the story of Romeo and Juliet, later reprised by William Shakespeare for his famous drama.[1]

Commemorative stone, Contrà Porti, Vicenza

Da Porto wrote the novel in his villa in Montorso Vicentino near Vicenza before June 1524. The title of the book was Historia novellamente ritrovata di due nobili amanti ("Newly found story of two noble lovers"), published posthumously about 1531 in Venice and dedicated to his mentor Pietro Bembo.[2] The origin of the story of the two unlucky lovers is disputed, however Da Porto probably took the inspiration from a tale by Masuccio Salernitano called Mariotto e Ganozza, introducing many modern elements reprised by Shakespeare's drama.

Some inspiration may have stemmed from da Porto's own experiences: In 1511, he apparently fell in love with the sixteen-year-old Lucina Sarvognan who enchanted a Venetian ball with her singing. The conflicts between and within Friulian clans were however at a critical point. Da Porto was very close to his uncle Antonio Savorgnan, unfortunately though, when he met Lucina, Antonio's relationship with her guardian Girolamo Savorgnan was at a nadir. Years later, badly wounded and paralyzed from his battles, Luigi wrote the novella in his villa, setting it in Verona, whose towers he could see from his window. He dedicated the work to Lucina, who by then had been married off to someone else.[3]

Da Porto set the story in Verona (at that time, a strategic city for Venice), in the age of Bartolomeo della Scala (1301–1304). He created the names of Romeus (later Romeo) and Giulietta (soon to be Juliet in England) and even created the characters of Mercutio, Tybalt, Friar Laurence and Paris.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Peter Brand, Lino Pertile (1996). The Cambridge History of Italian Literature. Cambridge University Press. p. 227. ISBN 0-521-43492-0. 
  2. ^ Prunster, Nicole (2000). Romeo and Juliet Before Shakespeare: Four Early Stories of Star-crossed Love. Toronto: Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies. p. 2-3. ISBN 0772720150. 
  3. ^ Muir, Edward (1998). Mad Blood Stirring: Vendetta and Factions in Friuli During the Renaissance. Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 86-89. ISBN 0801858496.