The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

June 19, 2016

June 19, 1588

John Florio was an Englishman who translated Montaigne and whose translation was the one used by Shakespeare. His life sketched:

John Florio (1553–1625) was born in London, the son of Michelangelo Florio, a Tuscan convert to Protestantism who had moved to England because of his religious beliefs and who served as a language tutor to several highborn English families. Raised in Italian-speaking Switzerland and Germany, where his father fled after the Catholic Queen Mary I came to the English throne, John Florio returned to England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and followed in his father’s footsteps as an instructor of languages, teaching French and Italian at Magdalen College, Oxford, and, under King James I, working as a private tutor to the Crown Prince and the Queen Consort. Florio’s works include
First Fruits, which yield Familiar Speech, Merry Proverbs, Witty Sentences, and Golden Sayings; A Perfect Induction to the Italian and English Tongues;Second Fruits, to be gathered of Twelve Trees, of divers but delightsome Tastes to the Tongues of Italian and English men; Garden of Recreation, yielding six thousand Italian Proverbs; an Italian–English dictionary, A World of Words (the second edition of which was entitled Queen Anna’s New World of Words); and his celebrated translation of Montaigne’s Essays.

Scholars debate Montaigne's influence on Shakespeare but of the former Nietzsche said "That such a man wrote has truly augmented the joy of living on Earth. And Nietzsche also held that Shakespeare was Montaigne’s best reader.

We do not know Florio's own birthdate but Frances Yates, the eminent Renaissanace scholar, gives June 19, 1588 as the date his son Edward was christened. 


She also in John Florio: The Life of an Italian in Shakespeare's England (1934) quotes Florio, on, that "World of Words." The topic is a conversation about how reading about something compares to knowledge gained by first hand experience. These are kinds of questions asked when books were newly available, and people freshly investigated aspects of reality. 

Never so long as we have this Gobling with us, does any hurt arrive us; neither do we eat our silver in the substance as you believe, but like a Goblin and a Proteus it changeth itself to whatsoever we have a mind to....Then like unto so many Cats come what will, you always land on your feet. Yet we that are still at home dealing with the dumb, are more in safety.

Yates glosses eating silver as spending money. "The dumb" are books. A similar conversation is now going on about the nature of cyber reality.


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