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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: November ::
Re: Anti-Semitism; Arden MV
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.1177.  Thursday, 20 November 1997.

[1]     From:   Jesus Cora <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 19 Nov 97 19:15:18 PST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.1169  Re: Arden Editions

[2]     From:   Tom Clayton <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 19 Nov 1997 16:28:09
        Subj:   Re 8.1169 Arden MV and Anti-Semitism


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jesus Cora <
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Date:           Wednesday, 19 Nov 97 19:15:18 PST
Subject: 8.1169  Re: Arden Editions
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.1169  Re: Arden Editions

Dear Shakespeareans,

Just a quick reflection on MoV's anti-Semitism.

1) We must not consider Shylock only as a Jew. He is a composite
character. He shows strains of the Senex archetype in _fabula palliata_
and his negative aspects, especially those of being a usurer and a miser
spring from this archetype, not his being a Jew. Besides, Shylock's
jewish-ness is, to my mind, a way of concealing the true object of
Shakespeare's criticisms: the Puritans, who in many cases, were also
usurers and certain-ly hated music and profane entertainments and were
quite strict with the interpretation of the law (the Bible). The
association between Puritans and Jews is explicated in Jonson's
_Bartholomew Fair_, where Zeal-of-the-land Busy is called "Rabbi" by
Littlewit.

2) Of course, our reactions to Early modern texts is modified by the
historical events spanning between that period and our own. After the
Holocaust, the audiences reactions to MoV cannot be the same as those of
Early Modern audiences. Our views of things are affected by history and,
indeed, it is impossible to avoid such influence (and quite healthy too
in this case, I believe).  It is a good idea to add a frame to Marlowe's
play, but in that case, it is no longer Marlowe's play. It is something
different, Marlowe's text and historical context are affected by the
relationship with the later events and figures. Would it not be
appropriate to call that a new play, and find a new title accordingly?
Would it not be more aseptic to show the play as it is and let the
audience decide if the play is a downright anti-Semitic text or a play
criticizing the Machiavel figure present in just any culture? On the
other hand, why not provoke the audience and make the Turks,
Palestinians, and the European characters, US or UN soldiers?  Why not
subvert it all and make Barabas a white European figure, the Turks,
Israeli forces, and the Europeans, Intifada fighters? I bet these
options would be not only original, but also thought-provoking.

Relativistically yours,
J. Cora.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tom Clayton <
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Date:           Wednesday, 19 Nov 1997 16:28:09
Subject:        Re 8.1169 Arden MV and Anti-Semitism

Re J. R. Brown's said-to-be "desperately 'behind'" New Arden MV (1955,
corr.  rpt., 1959): Brown is no anti-Semite (nor am I), but I don't
recall suggesting that I would use this-or any-edition in a cultural or
otherwise critical vacuum. I said in fact that "I like to use one Arden2
along with either or both of more recent New Cambridge/Oxford-World's
Classics editions" (I might have added Arden 3), which almost invariably
express-sometimes exclusively-current social perspectives and academic
attitudes. Every edition of any period has its cultural as well as
textual biases. These can always be explained and allowed for, and
condemned as one feels necessary; the only time such biases go unnoticed
is when they are one's own, a sure sign of shared genius.

Some prefer to proscribe the whole of whatever critical and scholarly
matter is seen as vitiated by an offending bias or gap, but what is
gained by that is a resulting narrowness that has its own limitations.
For the record (and without further ado), I have recently used to
advantage and general enlightenment Brown's New Arden together with Jay
L. Halio's Oxford/World's Classics MV (1993)--which contains a
substantial section on "Shakespeare and Anti-Semitism."

Cheers,
Tom
 

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