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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: November ::
Re: Arden Editions
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.1169.  Wednesday, 19 November 1997.

[1]     From:   Stevie Simkin <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 18 Nov 1997 15:00:01 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.1167  Re: Ardens and anti-Semitism

[2]     From:   Tom Clayton <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 18 Nov 1997 20:48:26
        Subj:   Ardens 2 and 3


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stevie Simkin <
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Date:           Tuesday, 18 Nov 1997 15:00:01 -0000
Subject: 8.1167  Re: Ardens and anti-Semitism
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.1167  Re: Ardens and anti-Semitism

> John Russell Brown's
> Arden2--in my view excellent-edition not much behind in what matters,
> despite its age (for which it may in fact be the better), 1955,
> corrected 1959.

I would agree wholeheartedly with the consensus that the Arden2s are
hard to fault in terms of their texts and scholarly notes.  However, it
seems to me that John Russell Brown's edition of MofV *is* desperately
"behind" in that it fails to acknowledge the ideological dimensions of
the play.  The fact that it was used repeatedly as a vehicle for Nazi
propaganda in the 1930s (for instance) requires attention. And as D. M.
Cohen writes about the Arden edition:

'It is all very well for John Russell Brown to say The Merchant of
Venice is not anti-Jewish, and that "there are only two slurs on Jews in
general"; but this kind of assertion, a common enough one in criticism
of the play, cannot account for the fear and shame that Jewish viewers
and readers have always felt from the moment of Shylock's entrance to
his final exit.'

See DM Cohen, 'The Jew and Shylock', Shakespeare Quarterly, 31 (1980),
53-63. There is also a useful discussion of MofV and Marlowe's Jew of
Malta in Peter Smith's Social Shakespeare (1995).

This is a problem currently preoccupying me as I am directing a
production of the Marlowe play which attempts to turn the play's
anti-Semitism inside out by using it as a play within a play:  our
"outer" play is set in Warsaw at the time the  ghetto was being set up
in 1939/40.  The "inner" play, Marlowe's text, is performed at the
behest of the Nazi authorities.  The Jewish actors,  forced to perform
Marlowe's anti-Semitic stereotypes, work to subvert the dominant reading
of the play by various ingenious means which leads us to manipulate the
text shamelessly, while keeping the words of the text pretty much
intact.  As the play switches between the 1939 and the Elizabethan
contexts, all kinds of interesting things emerge about how ethnic
identities are constructed, imposed and resisted.  (Ferneze and his
knights are played by German soldiers; Turks by non-Jewish Polish
citizens).

If anyone would be interested in following me up on this, please feel
free to e-mail me off list.  With 3 weeks to go to performance, and
various written research going on around the performance research, all
feedback is very welcome.

Stevie Simkin
King Alfred's University College, Winchester, UK

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tom Clayton <
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Date:           Tuesday, 18 Nov 1997 20:48:26
Subject:        Ardens 2 and 3

Having just received two distinguished Arden 3's, R. A. Foakes's *Lear*
and Katherine Duncan-Jones's *Sonnets*, I am happy to see and say that
here are two editions I personally couldn't spare and wouldn't spare
professionally.  What a year for the Sonnets, with Helen Vendler's
edition (and CD), too.

Cheers,
Tom
 

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