The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1352 Monday, 4 June 2001
 From: Stevie Gamble <
Date: Sunday, 3 Jun 2001 13:44:47 EDT
Subj: Re: SHK 12.1337 Re: Tragic Hero
 From: Florence Amit <
Date: Sunday, 3 Jun 2001 11:50:53 -0700 (PDT)
Subj: Re: SHK 12.1300 Re: Tragic Hero Becoming Satiric Hero
 From: Mike Jensen <
Date: Sunday, 03 Jun 2001 12:17:18 -0700
Subj: Re: SHK 12.1337 Re: Tragic Hero
From: Stevie Gamble <
Date: Sunday, 3 Jun 2001 13:44:47 EDT
Subject: 12.1337 Re: Tragic Hero
Comment: Re: SHK 12.1337 Re: Tragic Hero
It has been suggested to me that I should declare an interest in Florence Amit's depiction of the plot of the Merchant of Venice as representing a quasi-tax avoidance scheme devised to enable Shellac to dispose of his estate as he wished; so, for the avoidance of doubt, I shall note that prior to returning to the academic community I spent 22 years as an Inspector of Taxes, and that my specialist expertise in financial instruments and institutions included avoidance schemes ranging from the simple to the highly tortuous. It is fair to note that such schemes have been around for almost as long as there have been taxes, and that they frequently require people to act out in sequence a series of roles in a predetermined scenario designed to effect if not a happy then a more prosperous ending for the participants. Images of play-acting are frequently used by the English Courts in reviewing such schemes, and the most common reference is to a clapped out old melodrama entitled _The Duke of Westminster_ where the butler, as well as the Duke, did it.
And having said that I must also say that I find Florence Amit's analysis totally unconvincing. The fact that a scheme could exist is not evidence that a scheme did exist, and there is nothing in Ms Amit's web-site to support such a construction. There is ample evidence of the sources used for the Merchant of Venice without the need to import conspiracy theory into the equation, and if we wish to find eloping Venetians that may have influenced Shakespeare's interest in the sources there is the obvious example of Bianca Capello di Bartolomeo, whose adventurous route to marriage to Francesco de' Medici, and grand duchess of Tuscany, was very well known.
From: Florence Amit <
Date: Sunday, 3 Jun 2001 11:50:53 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 12.1300 Re: Tragic Hero Becoming Satiric Hero
Comment: Re: SHK 12.1300 Re: Tragic Hero Becoming Satiric Hero
I applaud the thought that Clifford Stetner, only partly allows, which is that it is more profitable to try to grasp some of the astonishing treasure that Shakespeare can proffer, rather than to outline what we think that he may have lacked. There was no scarcity of writings about the subject of the Jewish Diaspora. We are a people that dwell upon our history. Besides several archives there are many writers: such as Joseph Ha Kohen (1496-1578), historiographer, physician, and philologist who was active in Italy, Samuel Usque's famous "ConsolaLam as tribulaLoens de Ysrael" that appeared in 1552,.and Isaac Akrish's restorations. Arish lived with the Nasi family that I have described in my "Casting Out the Gold" essay. I do not know if Shakespeare might have accessed these Italian Jewish writers, (It seems to me that he did have knowledge of the work of Leone di Sommi, that is reflected in the character of Jaques ) or others not necessarily Jewish. I do not know from whom Shakespeare learned his Jewish history except perhaps the anecdotal, that he would have heard from his friends , the Bassanos, but I do believe that when an artist requires sources for a serious construction he will make every effort to gain what he needs. Balathasar This I wrote for the MIT forum some time ago:
The casual viewer assumes that the name is the same as Daniel's Babylonian name in the Bible, since Portia is compared to Daniel and like him, she must not interpret before the State authority under her own identity. My Arden Shakespeare does note a Biblical spelling, 'Belshazzar' and translates "Oh, protect the king" Is it Chaldean? For in a Hebrew Bible the word is different The biblical name that Daniel has assumed is Belteshazzar, (bet, lamed, tet, shin,alef, tzadik,resh). The stem -azar means TREASURE and ACCUMULATE. The prefix can mean WITHOUT because of the second e of the translation, although in the original the word lacks the letter yod for that meaning. More simply it means to PROJECT, EMPHASIZE. Thus Belteshazzar, what ever his name was for the Babylonians, has a Hebrew connotation of one who by his interpretations projects or advertises wealth. (suitably of King Nebuchadnezzar). as well as, according to the English translator, one who has no treasure of his own. However the pseudonym of Portia, Balt-hasar, (or Balthazar in some editions which suits more her servant, since it refers to 'help' and a 'return' ) Balathasar shows a particular differences that shows off Shakespeare's humor in Hebrew and makes it , under the circumstances an apt name for any female and for Portia.
When Portia plans her journey with Nerissa she says: (III,iv, 60,61) " ...they shall think we are accomplished / With what we lack ' Her assumed name compliments her habit. There are two distinct parts. The first A of 'Balt' permits the insertion of an aiyn instead of an aleph and the tet becomes tof, a gramatical suffix showing connection. Thus the first word of the phrase is the common way of saying HAVING or OWNING. The second part, paradoxically means a LACK or ABSENSE of. Now, what is absent to Portia dressed as she is in her doctor's garb? ?.
I have just glanced at today's postings and I frankly cannot keep up with you. Yes, Mr. Larque, The composition was coming along nicely, thank you. Too bad that it could not be finished. . In case I fail to indicate this elsewhere let me say that I stand corrected, through your influence as to where the "common ferry" "traject" should be. Yes I agree, It would be in Venice according to the text and not Padua. Portia evidently disembarks there.
The writer who pointed out to me that "The Merchant of Venice" was suppressed is Edna Krane, in her book, "Shylock and the King of England", Vantage, N.Y. 1996 Krane's thesis is confirmed by my "Penguin" reference book 10/6, F.E Halliday, "A Shakespeare Companion, 1564-1964." On page 312 Halliday gives the stage history of the play, which is that, "There is no recorded revival between 1605 and 1701." In other words Shakespeare lived for eleven years without it being produced again. If there is more detailed information I would be glad to read it. Although the play would have been played occasionally between 1594 and 1598, Neither Edna Krane, Thomas Larque nor anyone else knows how it was presented for sure. I presume that it was presented as Shakespeare wanted it to be, whether. liked or hated by the audience. What it was and could have been expanded to be is the topic of this argument. My supposition, with the view of how different Restoration drama was from the drama of Shakespeare, is that the restored play was not very much like what I think that Shakespeare designed. It has, little by little, become more tempered, although, if I take into account what I know of the theatrical presentations since that time, it has never come near to being what I believe it should be. I believe that the English theater has regularly produced what can be compared to a Pyramus and Thysbe farce, instead of a true "Romeo and Juliet" quality drama. Although it is my estimation that The "Merchant" is greater. It is where Shakespeare reaches his zenith in satire. We have been producing a counterfeit and it passes only because Shakespeare wrote so well that even his spoof has meat to chew. But what nourishment is there? Please reflect.
It is true. The characters are under cover. You cannot always believe what they seem to say or find what you think you should, outright. As I wrote a few days ago Shakespeare wants the inquiring mind to reach conclusions based on feasibility, logic, history, imagery, emotion, a more imaginative stage craft: every tool that can be mustered. I have Hebrew as a last resort and I will show you , as I did in the essay about "money bags" how that can confirm and change what the rest tends to bring to light.
Thomas Larque read in my essay that Bassanio can be compared to the renowned, Marrano, Joseph Nasi , Duke of Naxos in his youth. He was an extraordinary figure and it was a climatic period for the Jews: Inquisition and printing; Ghetto and False Messiah; Renaissance Italy and Turkey- what forces at work! It was also extraordinary for the Venetians - just right for Shakespeare's historic vision. However, when one writes about a prefiguration- like the Luther analogy in "Hamlet", it is received grudgingly. (Time, in "Hamlet", mentioned in another thread, I believe must accommodate more than one man's life.) Therefore to know that Bassanio belongs to the Jews as a Marrano restored to his own tradition, is to know the personal history of Duke Joseph Nasi,, the most famous Jew of the time .
There are other levels, of course. I will not speak here of the supernal. Shelomo Yehuda Schoenfeld (cited below) asks through Yehuda Raddy, rhetorically "how Bassanio can possibly be said to correspond to King David of the Bible, the ideal figure of Jewry, when at first sight his unusual name seems to lack any particular significance, in Italian [sic] or Hebrew. Unusual it may be, but not inexplicable. Bashan (BaShaN) was the only province that remained to King David in the wars of his old age, and hence it is fitting that the most favoured of the suitors should be called Prince of Bashan - Bassanio - and all the more so since all the other candidates for Portia's hand were called after their countries.When King David had to retreat across the Jordan and take refuge in the Bashan region because of the revolt of Absalom, one of his few trusted companions was his old friend Barzilai, the man of Gilead (2 Sam. XVII, 27) Now BaRZeL is Hebrew for iron, ferrum in Latin, and the region of Gilead in Trans Jordan is mountainous, and in its nomenclature synonymous with Bashan. This Barzilai has a very minor role in the Book of Samuel (I Sam. II, 114) exactly like his counterpart in The Merchant of Venice, for he is indeed to be found there, again as a chance companion, the Marquis of Montferrat, whose name, perhaps originally Feratus de Monte (= Mount Gilead), corresponds exactly to that of his prototype , Barzilai."
Another proto Jewish reference is a family very close
to Shakespeare, the converso musician family of
Bassano. The name of Bassanio is quite a compliment,
to them I think. One of them, according to my
reference ( The Bassanos Venetian Musicians and
Instrument Makers in England, 1531-1665 by David Lasocki and Roger Prior) had a property suit with the Venetian government, that dragged on for years. There is a hint in the play of Shylock who might prefer a wood wind instruments over a squealing piccolo and I bet that the idea of urinating to the sound of bag pipes were words that Shakesspeare remembered from one of the family. Yes, I do believe that the word "Negro" is placed to show a location, but it could also be the famous dark lady, who is made to wed a Frenchman. Launcelet stands in for Lanier. Before her matrimony Aemelia Bassano because she had been left a destitute orphan,. had been made a concubine to Lord Hunsdan. Is her plight not corrected by Shylock's care? What ever else his name means, in clear Hebrew it says "Shai" a present lach (Scotch pronunciation) to you, fem. gender. And Jessica's name contains a word often referring to dowry. Iska These associations I admit, are speculative. I mention them as an aside to show that The Marrano presence can be pervading. However there is much more on the interpretive level and by Bassanio's use of Hebrew.
This is a portion of an essay "Homage to Schoenfeld" that I sent the forum about a year ago For an example of Bassanio's intimacy with Hebrew, as a clue of his identity, I have copied this from Anita Engel's Was Shylock A Jew?. It is,a synopsis of Schelomo Jehuda Schoenfeld's findings written in Niv Hamidrashia" 1974, vol.II, Israel. Schoenfeld later wrote a book containing this material in German and Hebrew: Eine Judische Quelle Im "Kaufmann von Venedig (A Hebrew Source for The Merchant of Venice), HannanShoham, Jerusalem,1976. Both Engel's synopsis and that of Yehuda T.Raddy, a portion of which is just above was first printed in ("Shakespeare Survey" 32, edited by Kenneth Muir, c CUP 1979, Great Britain) It will have a page on my web site. I do not accept Schoenfeld's premise that Shakespeare incorporated the Hebrew without knowing its presence. In the play Hebrew exceeds his examples by far and it is very closely integrated. However, I am grateful in the name of Shakespeare scholarship, for Schoenfeld's insightful researches. F. A.
"When Bassanio, in his monologue, ponders over what casket to choose, he stops before the leaden casket and says: "Thy plainness moves me more than eloquence". But that is not precise English. "Plainness" is not the opposite of "eloquence". In fact they act in quite different spheres. However, when translated into Hebrew it makes sense. "Plain" in Hebrew is "pashut". "Eloquence" would be "drash". "Peshat" and "drash" are two terms used in Bible exegesis. "Peshat means the straight - forward explanation of the words as they stand. "Drash " means the homiletic, or interpretative explanation of a text. In other words, when Bassanio says: "Thy plainess moves me more than eloquence", what he means according to the Hebrew, is: "I won't look for a hidden meaning. I'll choose according to the straight - forward, simple meaning. Which is that [ the Hebrew letters for ] Porat is contained in [ the Hebrew word for lead ] 'oferet'.-that Portia is contained in the leaden casket".
I have to persist in my interpretation regarding the interpretation of Solanio and Salario's behavior toward Lorenzo and his friends. We are to stay at odds here. Because the two honor Antonio, they do not show hostility - just sarcasm. They do not directly address any member of Lorenzo's group. They are referred to in the third person. I would feel demeaned by this. Solanio and Solario are notoriously inquisitive and if they did not think it beneath their dignity they would stayed to chat.
However, the definitive confirmation is in the Hebrew of Shylocks soliloquy. It is completely in Hebrew - amazingly, and the line, 366 that reads in English: "I hate him for he is a Christian," can be transcribed into many, many Hebrew sentences, among them the following which suits the problem of Lorenzo's identity: Now please do not hold me responsible for Shakespeare's procedures. If they did not appear in overwhelming force and quantity, I would not display this.
I h/ate / him/ for/ he/ is a/ Christ/ian
Ai/ch yi t/am/ for / he/ isa / c'arusa/t anous
There is a little leeway with this in the near silent h in him and the adding of a final near silent s for the last word, anous . But if a stranger were to overhear this provocative English word of "hate" he would not pay much attention to such details. I think that was considered. Notice also the contrast to the written English. The subjects in both languages are always related for irony (and guidance)
The sentence translates: 'How will they suit each other - a disparity - she is a woman espoused to a forced convert.'
The full soliloquy will appear soon in my web site under the title "Apples of Gold Encased in Silver". Although there is the Hebrew language to settle all quandaries, it is not the only way. Keep that in mind just as you would in life , if you would be confronting refugees from some far off place. The words that are spoken to a local official may not express the true intent of such an insecure person, and indeed there may be vast verbal misunderstandings. I repeat, with sensitivity one can come pretty close to the truth without words.
And yes, why not, as Thomas Larque says, "The most obvious explanation for all these departures is that Shakespeare is clearing the stage for Bassanio and Antonio to talk in private - something vastly important to the advancement of the plot." Agreed.
I disagree with Thomas Larque's reading of the plot regarding the behavior of Salario and Solanio . I believe that in a true satiric fashion , they are taxmen who are defeated from impoverishing refugees in transit. My own reading in my essay stands.. The only sure refuge that Jews and crypto Jews, under the scrutiny of the inquisition , could count on was their families and Jewish philanthropy. Books about the period confirm this. Brian Pullan's "The Jews of Europe and the Inquisition of Venice, 1550-1670 "(N.Y. 1983) p 223 says that "Marrano types are not always sharply distinguishable .... Francisco Olivier and 'Franciscus Hispanus' seem to have been isolated members of families which consisted predominately or partially of professing Jews. If anything they inclined towards Christianity ... In times of trouble-of isolation , poverty or illness they fell back on assistance offered them by Jewish relatives." Never the less, Olivier was tried and sent to the galleys by the Venetian inquisition. Therefore, although an elopement might be a common place for Commedia dell Arte heroes ,-and English lovers, in Shakespeare's Jewish satire , it is used as a tool to delude native tax farmers. The same rules simply do not hold for these characters. Lorenzo and Jessica had nothing to fear from Shylock and everything to fear from Salario and Solanio. . Shylock's recall of Laban confers this truth, if Laban is identified with the local authority from whom Jacob escapes with his family.
Thomas Larque quotes a joke that we are supposed to take to heart " (Portia) and her newly converted Jewish husband (Bassanio), tells Launcelot "I shall be saved by my husband - he hath made me a Christian!".
Launcelet is a is very clever and he is a faithful servant. He is into all of the family's secrets. In my essay 'Sealing a Silver Casket" I describe how Launcelet standing alone before the curtain calls the audience "hard" and "devilish" to believe such a stupid representation of a Jewish father. This is what Schoenfeld in Raddy's synopsis, makes out of his name,Gabbo. " Shylock's servant, is to be found in [the story of]...Saul. The Gibeonites were lowly 'hewers of wood and drawers of water' ever since the days of Joshua (Jos. IX, 4-7, 27), but they identified themselves so completely with the people of Israel that they even went with them into exile in Babylon and came back from there with the rest of the exiles who returned (Ezra II, 43-54). The name Gobbo could well come from Gibeonite: Gobbo is designated without the slightest cause as 'of Hagaar's offspring' (II, V, 44). This is nothing but a misreading of the Hebrew word. HGR can be vocalized as HaGaR - or else as Ha-GeR: the latter means convert, [and one who may adhere to Jewish society rather than its faith] and the Gibeonites were indeed outsiders of a special kind." I can add my own meanings, but let it suffice to say that Go is in simple English and Bo is in simple Hebrew meaning come. Launcelet Gobo leaves in a European language and arrives to one spoken by his dear masters.
Larque mentions Jessica's feelings of being "ashamed to be my father's child." ...
Jessica asks "what heinous sin is it in me / To be ashamed to be my father's child" She is not, as supposed in simplistic interpretations, complaining about her father's character but about her Jewish destiny which is to be constantly made to feel ashamed of herself supposedly because of her forebear's "heinous sin" of the crucifixion. This has now been changed by Vatican two. For Shylock she cannot but feel the deepest gratitude for arranging her well-funded departure and pulling off the scheme that will give her the standing of a dowered bride.
The quotation O Lorenzo / If thou keep promise I shall end this strife / Become a Christian and thy loving wife!", can be read with no small degree of irony -although the word Christian here can be transposed into Hebrew to read ."C'ree eshet iun" 'Read! The subject of a judgment' In such a reading Jessica is saying that the forthcoming judgment will end her wretched strife.
The following is from the essay that will soon be added to my web site:
Threes and Ones
In my investigations, my greatest challenges have been over some words in the play that seem to contradict a preferred interpretation: words spoken under conditions that are arguably pure. By contrast many hard words, publicly uttered are self explanatory having the obvious purpose of misleading an adversary and one may conclude, even the off stage audience who are being tricked into using their minds. However, when there are words that are more intimately conveyed, as when Shylock speaks to Tubal (Act III scene I) there must be another explication. Such unfeeling words sound too pat for zealous ears of that time, to be uncritically accepted for Shakespeare's final evaluation, as I appreciate him and they are at odds with too much else in the play.
Where lies the fault? Here stage management may be brought into accountability. When Shylock is overheard by Solanio and Salerio, he speaks words that show double, even triple meanings or more - most pointedly, when Hebrew is applied. However soon that pair is called away allowing the words that the Jews say to each other to be considered germane. Then why do they not speak in an English that reads differently, or, a possibility, speak wholly and unequivocally in Hebrew, rather than continuing with the same Hebrew-English configurations as before? Are conclusions, about the absence of Solanio and Salerio mistaken? Yes: we seem to have been mislead here too. If we allow that the messenger could have been sent, by Shylock's omnipresent "thieves", to impart the impression that they depart although they in fact stay, the scene comes together.
Solanio and Salerio actually are in hiding and they continue to eavesdrop upon the Jews who are always cognizant of their presence - according to the best Comedia Della Arte tradition. The scene probably has meant to employ elements of a typical Italian Renaissance stage set like those of Sebastiano Serlio5: a square with the two mostly behind a central fountain. It is a superb opportunity for comic acting and justifies the Hebrew-English double talk. At the same time, for unprejudiced ears, words showing excitement may connote a positive rather than a deplorable enthusiasm no matter what their surface meanings seem to be and the imagery may round out a very different picture. In my Act Three, Scene I, Annotated Text I will show a translation of the Hebrew and interpret the scene in a way that does not damn Shylock or Jessica. For a preview let us see Shylock's first revelation before Tubal regarding his daughter's absence.
First, the surface meaning that is for the tax collectors' ears, showing Shylock's would-be resentment:
Why, there, there, there, there! a diamond gone,
Then there is the interpretive level for "your reverence" as Launcelet calls those who, without Hebrew, have noticed the imagery and are ready to interpret the text in a feasible way. For them the exclamations show emotion and surprise. The words have the more authentic connotation that Jessica is her father's "diamond".
Finally the Hebrew phrases contained in the English. It shows Shylock as he is, praying that his gambol for his "diamond gone", his absent daughter, will succeed:
Yehei t'hy'ere - that it will be seen, tyaere -it will be brought to examination. t'haere - that there will be enlightenment - A diamond gone: ad i'heh until it will be OR ed ya God is witness Amen. doeg na! Please care! (My arrangement is debatable.)
However even a single word may fix the correct literal meaning and emotional impact. That is true for such a prejudicial word as Ducats that in Hebrew means something quite different from money: it implies the passage of time. Ducats sounds similar to the Hebrew . 'DaCoT,' meaning minutes. A startling contrast is also implied with the word Hearsed. Simplistically Shylock is calling for the death of his own daughter. On the interpretive level hearsed is obviously the English, here said. The words are just 'said' - not meant and if they will be repeated they will become hear say. While the Hebrew tells us that: He - 'she', AeR - 'will be alive' (awake - vigilant) Sh ED - 'as witness'. 'She will live to be a witness'. I have eliminated other complimentary meanings, since the message already conveys that: Shylock wishes Jessica to live and increase as a Jew, thus becoming her father's "witness". The Aeson imagery that she recalls at Belmont confirms this. The hearse repeats the central lead casket symbolism with its Jewish significance made specific here, of death and womb. Further explications will be in the annotated text.
The quotations for Portia's Christian word "church" can be torn apart linguistically. For instance a "KiRK" means 'like empty' in Hebrew . More is possible.like c'sh ruch when there is spirit etc. There is good reason to be devious and the speeches in this scene are very devious indeed, because of the presence of Salario. Portia tries to keep things within his world of associations.
It is true that Portia passes chapels. Evidently they are landmarks in the countryside. Although Montenegro may have been ruled by Muslim Turks, the people still worshipped as Christians. Wherever Belmont may have been, it was certainly not in a country where the only edifices of worship would be synagogues. Shakespeare might well have put in these suggestions of possible unfriendliness, in consideration of Duke Joseph Nasi's fiefdom of Naxos, but also to balance out the symbolization of the caskets.
The sentence :(III,iv, 31,32) "There is a monast'ry two miles off /And there we will abide. is a clever way of saying that she will abide two miles distant from the monast'ry. The story told of a period of "contemplation" when she will await her "Lord" in passivity is a falsehood, of course. We know that she will go to Venice to speak before the Duke. In line 85 she concludes with Nerissa that they must travel post haste, twenty miles (in order to board the ferry) and wait for Balathazar. Also Lorenzo's speech just preceding is convoluted. So who is being fooled here? Are the stage directions wrong and is Salario still present? Is he in hiding? Is that why she mentions a monastery? None of the people mentioned in the room would require such a tissue of falsehood. By the way are not monasteries just for monks?
Concerning Bassanio's would be circumcision: The hour is so late that I reserve a chance to discuss some matters in the future. Of a certainty the operation was accomplished on Joeph Nasi.
Here is what I finished of my first answer to Thomas Larque I am glad that he confirms my view that "Certainly Belmont is not in Venice. Thomas is right, I thank him. Portia's landing was obviously not at a Paduan river dock, but most likely , at Venice , where the "common ferry" she mentions would be berthed..
Portia addresses Balthazar:(III.iv.45-55)
Take this same letter,
And use thou all the endeavour of a man
In speed to Padua: see thou render this
Into my cousin's hand, Doctor Bellario;
And, look, what notes and garments he doth give thee,
Bring them, I pray thee, with imagined speed
Unto the tranect, to the common ferry
Which trades to Venice. Waste no time in words,
But get thee gone: I shall be there before thee.
The servant, Balthazar, after he will arrive at Padua, will take from Dr Bellario, notes and garments for Portia that are to be handed over at the "tranect" of the ferry. The meaning of that word has not been settled by textual scholars: (Russell Brown, "The Arden Shakespeare" mentions traghetto which is in Florio's "World of Words" (1598) and Steevens mention of "tranare"to draw , pass over, swim. Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor,"William ShakespeareA Textual Companion"cites Rowe who says what Arden mentions, that the word is probably a misreading and that 'an' could have been substitued for 'ai'.) However, something to do with ferrying and traversing a water body will have to be concluded, since the word does modify the word "ferry". I would think it may be the ferry's ramp or perhaps a kind of closed wharf. Now why would Portia meet Balathazar just at that spot? Why would she not herself visit her relative, Dr Bellario, and dress in comfort there? It may be because she has not a moment to spare, before the trial. In that case, she and Nerissa could plan to assume their disguises by the time of their arrival. But no they must leave in their own persons although at the trancet they will change over. I think that Portia must take these articles at the tranect because 1.It does indicate a sea journey just as Thomas' references do, for the placement of Belmont. She must be at that landing and no other place after having arrived by the common ferry, 2. It also indicates international border procedure. Belmont is a haven that is beyond the reach of Venice. It is in the Ottoman controlled Balkans. Portia had better take on her new identity that Dr. Bellario has devised for her, post haste, on the spot, before she meets with any Italian or Venetian State officials. Again I say that the name that she assumes, her servant's must be because it is a name accepted by the officials. The servant can make such journeys under his own name, which Portia must assume for her own travels. No room for more
Thomas Larque's puzzlement over my claim that "Genoa['s] name is put to mislead Shylock's adversaries, ".can only remain puzzlement by failing to find the satire that is present in the play. This according to the Encycopedia Judaica was the climate of toleration for Jews in Genoa at the time that I believe is relevant for "The Merchant of Venice" - The Jews were expelled from the [Genoa] in 1515, readmitted a year later, and again expelled in 1550. In 1567 the expulsion was extended to the whole territory of the republic. Attilo Milano
I cannot find the reference just now - but Marrano, crypto Jews were expelled from Genoa in 1555, if my memory serves me.
Therefore Genoa would not be a pleasant place for a honeymoon for anyone with Jewish connections. I have argued elsewhere that If Lorenzo had been a bona fide son of Venice, his best bet would have been to stay put, in Venice.
It is a great pity to me if I am thought of as being perverted from finding out the truth in literature no matter how bitter or complimentary.
From: Mike Jensen <
Date: Sunday, 03 Jun 2001 12:17:18 -0700
Subject: 12.1337 Re: Tragic Hero
Comment: Re: SHK 12.1337 Re: Tragic Hero
Thomas Larque, you have done a wonderful job of finding problems in Florence Amit's theory of *MOV,* by contrasting it with the play, contemporary references, and a bunch of other things. I am grateful, and so I hope is Ms. Amit. If she is right, she needs to account for everything you have mentioned, and possibly more. The ideal result is that she will either change her mind, or better her argument by addressing all the problems you point out. There is a kind of genius in the internal consistency of her scheme, but the problems you address seem fatal to her ideas.
I'm sure you are aware of this, but since you did not mention it, I shall.
>Ms. Amit seems unable to accept that a Renaissance play might contain a
>Jew acting villainously and inhumanly. She tells us that these are
>"absurdities that should have given the audience pause...
There is also Marlowe's *The Jew of Malta,* with a Jewish character far more evil than Shylock at his worst. This is a second example of a villainous Jewish character in a play, and it preceded Shakespeare's work by a bit. Marlowe's play appears to have been very popular. Ms. Amit will have to deal with the problem presented by this play as well, if she wishes to maintain her ideas. I shalln't try to make anything of the other known Jewish play of that time, since it is lost, so its content can only be speculative.
One of my concerns, and this assumes that Ms. Amit is wrong, is that her interpretation tends to deny the anti-Semitism in the play. I know views on this vary from Shakespeare was himself an anti-Semite, to Shakespeare used the play to condemn anti-Semitism by showing it in operation. While my own opinion is somewhere in between, I'll allow a wide range of valid interpretations.
At the risk of preaching to the converted, I think that anti-Semitism is a pretty nasty thing. My bigoted in-laws have taught me to have a zero tolerance policy towards all bigotry. I am not trying to call Ms. Amit a bigot, but I am concerned that in not recognizing the anti-Semitism in the play for what it is, she discourages her readers from realistically engaging these anti-semitic statements in their historical context. That would be a shame.
Again, thank you Thomas for your excellent work.
All the best,
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook,
The S H A K S P E R Webpage <http://ws.bowiestate.edu>