Vol. 40 No. 4 (1992)
Research Article

Caliban's Name and the “Brave New World”

Published 1992-12-01



One of Shakespeare's most puzzling made-up names, that of Caliban in The Tempest, is traceable to the influence of the log of Columbus' first voyage to America, or from a transcription thereof by Las Casas, deriving from the linguistic confusion of Caribbean people (“Caribs”) with Canibs, hence with cannibals. The allusion, however, is probably not to actual man-eaters, the question of whether the natives were anthropophagi (physically or mythically) notwithstanding. Although Montaigne's influential essay did indeed cite the latter, Shakespeare could have improvised here a bit upon Florio's translation.


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