A Possible Source For Sir Thomas More’s ‘Mountainish Inhumanity’

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Shakespeare’s authorship of a scene in Sir Thomas More has been established as highly probable on the basis of an analysis of the handwriting, vocabulary, and collocations stylistics. His addition to the play was long believed to have been written soon after publication of the original play, in 1593–94.7 John Jowett’s recent Arden edition, however, dates the original text to 1600 and, following Scott McMillin, the revisions to 1603–4.

In the English translation of a treatise by the Italian Thommaso Buoni, *Problemes of Beautie and All Humane Affections* (1606), I found a possible source for the unusual phrase "mountainish inhumanity", which would date Shakespeare's additions to an even later moment - in or after 1606. Other critics have suggested that the play may be contemporary with *Antony and Cleopatra* (1606) and *Coriolanus* (1608). This Italian source, which like Shakespeare's added lines deals with the question of compassion, supports such a late date for the play.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-283
Number of pages3
JournalNotes and Queries
Issue number2
Early online date25 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


  • shakespeare, william
  • sir thomas more
  • source studies
  • compassion

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