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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: August ::
Re: Shylock and *MV*: *To Be . . ."; Nazis;
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0687.  Saturday, 20 August 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Cary Mazer <
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        Date:   Friday, 19 Aug 1994 09:33:27 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0685  Re: Shylock and *MV*
 
(2)     From:   Fran Teague <
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        Date:   Friday, 19 Aug 94 09:22:45 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0685  Re: Shylock and *MV*
 
(3)     From:   Greg Grainger <
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        Date:   Friday, 19 Aug 1994 07:31:00 -0400
        Subj:   SHK 5.0685  Re: Shylock and *MV*
 
(4)     From:   John Gardiner <
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        Date:   Friday, 19 Aug 1994 08:35:21 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0685 Re: Shylock and *MV*
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Cary Mazer <
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 >
Date:           Friday, 19 Aug 1994 09:33:27 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 5.0685  Re: Shylock and *MV*
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0685  Re: Shylock and *MV*
 
Bravo to Hardy Cook for reminding us all of Lubitsch's To Be or Not to Be, an
absolutely delightful movie (though surely the "To be or not to be" speech
would NOT be a good time for the actress playing Ophelia to have her admirer
come back stage without her husband/Hamlet noticing, since, as well all know,
Ophelia is on stage during that speech).  And Felix Bressart, playing a
bit-part Jewish actor, speaks the "Hath not a Jew" speech, the crux of an
elaborate escape plan, to great effect.  Two things to note about this, though:
Bressart's character has a Jewish name, and (about the actor playing Claudius)
says "What he is, I wouldn't eat"; but the word "Jew" is never mentioned in the
movie.  And when the actor, detained by a (fake) squadron of SS guards in the
theatre lobby, confronts (a fake) Hitler, he says "Have _we_ not eyes," etc.,
without mentioning the word Jew.  So, what was Hollywood's problem in 1942?
(The lead actor in the film was, as you all probably know, Benny Kobelsky ...
er, I mean Jack Benny).
 
Cary M. Mazer
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Fran Teague <
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 >
Date:           Friday, 19 Aug 94 09:22:45 EDT
Subject: 5.0685  Re: Shylock and *MV*
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0685  Re: Shylock and *MV*
 
Regarding anti-Semitism in _The Merchant of Venice_:  the Georgia Shakespeare
Festival is producing the play this summer.  Portia and Nerissa are Nazis;
the Venetians are followers of Mussolini.  The word Christian is frequently
replaced by the word Fascist; thus Shylock says of Antonio, "I hate him for
he is a Fascist" early on.  It's been a most controversial production; the
festival hosted a lively and exciting symposium on the production and the
issues that it raised.  One of the speakers was Rabbi Sugarman from the Temple;
those of you who have seen _Driving Miss Daisy_ will recognize that the
topic of anti-Semitism in Atlanta has resonance.
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Greg Grainger <
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Date:           Friday, 19 Aug 1994 07:31:00 -0400
Subject: Re: Shylock and *MV*
Comment:        SHK 5.0685  Re: Shylock and *MV*
 
On August 18, Al Cacicedo <
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 > wrote:
 
[ . . . ]
 
>In any case, I think it not
>very useful to say that the racism or potential racism of a work of art makes
>it unususable.  If indeed there is racism in *Merchant* or in *Jew of Malta*,
>or if Eliot's Bleistein or Hemingway's Cohn indicate the racist assumptions o
>Euro-America just before WW II, then I think it incumbent on me to have my
>students read those works specifically to see the racism that Eliot and
>Hemingway, and perhaps Shakespeare and Marlowe, take so easily for granted.
>we excise those works from our collective syllabus, we are falsifying history
 
Very good point! As one who occasionally engages in debate with non- teachers
on this subject, I am grateful for such a cogent argument in favour of leaving
'controversial' works on the syllabus.
 
Greg, goes double for 'Huck Finn', too.
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Gardiner <
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 >
Date:           Friday, 19 Aug 1994 08:35:21 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 5.0685 Re: Shylock and *MV*
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0685 Re: Shylock and *MV*
 
It is my understanding that there is a film version of *MV* in which the
Nazis round up Jews and force them to stage a production of the play. I
do not know particulars about who directed the film or when it was
released. Can anyone else help me out here?
 

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