I found myself utterly absorbed in 'Images in an Antique Book'; it's beautifully written. Not only does it provide a lively and welcoming introduction to Dante, it also opens a great chasm of unanswered questions as to Shakespeare's education, reading, methods and travel.
The many observations of borrowings and echoes in Shakespeare from across Dante's Divine Comedy are persuasive in themselves - especially with Robertson's demonstration of parallel narrative contexts. Most sensationally, Robertson has uncovered a vivid and unique word-pairing in Dante that occurs in an identical context in Shakespeare. The concentration of language, theme, plot, character and historical reference in this borrowing constitutes a 'multi-factor authentication' of Shakespeare's direct debt to Dante.
'Images in an Antique Book' is an enormously important book. Shakespeare must have read Dante in Italian - and Dante's Italian was difficult. The implications of this finding are profound.
I can't recommend this book highly enough.
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