Shakespeare and the Jews

Shakespeare and the Jews Most educated readers are familiar with the sinister figure of Shylock in Shakespeare s The Merchant of Venice an anti Semitic stereotype of the cunning greedy and ruthless Jewish man But how did a

  • Title: Shakespeare and the Jews
  • Author: James Shapiro
  • ISBN: 9780231103442
  • Page: 129
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Most educated readers are familiar with the sinister figure of Shylock in Shakespeare s The Merchant of Venice, an anti Semitic stereotype of the cunning, greedy, and ruthless Jewish man But how did a stereotype like Shylock enter the literature at all, given that there were so few Jews in Shakespeare s England

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    1 thought on “Shakespeare and the Jews”

    1. A more accurate title would have been “Jews and Jewish Identity in England, 1290-1833,” but that wouldn’t have attracted as many readers (including me) as Shakespeare and the Jews, and we would have missed an interesting book. Quite a small proportion of the book is about Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, even about its influence: I’m not entirely convinced about the connections between the play and the “Jew Bill” providing for naturalization of Jews in 1753, especially after readi [...]

    2. An absolutely brilliant work of literary criticism and history. Taking "The Merchant of Venice" as his starting point, Shapiro describes Shakespeare's and Elizabethan England's near obsession with the role of Jews (who had been expelled from England some decades earlier) in Christian society. The iconic "pound of flesh" as a metaphor for circumcision!

    3. Saw a production of The Merchant of Venice at UT a few days ago that inspired much debate in my family about the treatment of Jews in and by Shakespeare. In researching anti-Semitism in the play, I found this book by a Columbia professor who visited UT last week. My parents and I will be curious to read it.

    4. An academic text so Shapiro assumes the reader is familiar with much of the criticism of (especially) "The Merchant of Venice" but still worth reading by fans of the play.

    5. I found myself very impressed with Shapiro's work. I picked this book up because I'm a fan of Shakespeare, and I'm a fan of learning more about cultures that aren't my own. So, what better decision than to buy Shakespeare and the Jews? Though, be warned--this book is mostly about Shakespeare's England and its reaction to Jewish folks rather than Shakespeare and The Merchant of Venice. That's not to say that Merchant isn't also heavily mentioned--but to fully understand everything at play (pun in [...]

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