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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: December ::
Jewish Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.2038  Wednesday, 1 December 2004

[1]     From:   Elizabeth Fontenla <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 30 Nov 2004 08:07:41 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.2031 Jewish Shakespeare

[2]     From:   John W. Kennedy <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 30 Nov 2004 14:21:43 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.2031 Jewish Shakespeare

[3]     From:   David Basch <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 30 Nov 2004 17:38:19 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.2031 Jewish Shakespeare

[4]     From:   Al Magary <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 30 Nov 2004 18:46:33 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.2031 Jewish Shakespeare


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Elizabeth Fontenla <
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Date:           Tuesday, 30 Nov 2004 08:07:41 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 15.2031 Jewish Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.2031 Jewish Shakespeare

Dave Evett brings up a good point.  Has anyone pointed out that
Shakespeare was an actor?  I know realism wasn't the goal of the
Elizabethan stage but it seems obvious to me that if an actor can create
a whole new identity then the world of that identity come along to play.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John W. Kennedy <
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Date:           Tuesday, 30 Nov 2004 14:21:43 -0500
Subject: 15.2031 Jewish Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.2031 Jewish Shakespeare

Philip Eagle <
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 >

 >Having no detailed academic background in this area, I often wonder why
 >the possibility is never discussed that Shakespeare could have done what
 >a modern writer would do, and developed personal sources - for example,
 >asked a sailor to look over the nautical passages in "The Tempest", a
 >lawyer to look over Act IV of "Merchant of Venice".  Or were early
 >modern playwrights so afraid of piracy that they wouldn't have allowed
 >anyone to know what subject they were working on?

I doubt a lawyer /did/ "look over Act IV of 'Merchant of Venice'"; it's
pretty much pure fantasy. (A lawyer would have pointed out, for example,
that Shylock's penalty, being in effect a contract to commit a crime, is
/ipso facto/ null and void.)

But as to the larger point, the answer is simple. Shakespeare, like
George Washington and Jesus, is not, in the minds of many, a "really
real person". (See Dorothy L. Sayers' "A Vote of Thanks to Cyrus".) Thus
the midden-heap of fantastick theories anent Othello, Shylock, Malvolio,
and, always, Hamlet; thus the fever-dreams of Delia Bacon /et hoc genus
omne/; and thus all that lie between them.

It is to be noted that the Georgians, whose contempt for Shakespeare's
age made them so very wrong about Shakespeare in so many ways, were
preserved from this particular genus of error by that same contempt. We
have of late heard too much, perhaps, about Shakespeare the inventor of
the human, and too little about Shakespeare the human, himself.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Basch <
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Date:           Tuesday, 30 Nov 2004 17:38:19 -0500
Subject: 15.2031 Jewish Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.2031 Jewish Shakespeare

Philip Eagle and David Evett make some good points about how a writer
might sprinkle his works with "authenticities" without knowing too much
more than that but still seem deep on the subject. But in the case of
Evett's cowboy experience, someone really knowledgeable about cowboy
life could really spot it as a facade. What is striking about
Shakespeare is that he very often passes the test of depth by someone
who knows something of the subject.

When it comes to Judaic elements in his plays, Shakespeare not only
refers to such items through "key" words that tell he knows about the
essence of such subjects, but he uses such ideas as important
ingredients of his work.

Take Morroco in The Merchant of Venice, who tells Portia that he offers
his arm to let anyone "incision make to see whose blood is REDDIST"-he
avers that his blood will be as red as that of the blondest northern
born. What is interesting about the statement is that evokes a Talmudic
discussion concerning the sole right of a person to the water he owns
when he finds himnself in a desert with another person and there is only
water enough for one to survive. To the argument that the other guy has
a right to seize it to save himself, the Talmud argues, "Is your blood
redder than his? Perhaps his blood is redder." Clearly, Shakespeare
refers to this material and does it in a way to tell those who also know
about it that he is in this know. This is quite a bit different than
superficial name dropping. This is only a tiny fragment of the many
similar elements to be found in the poet's work, some of which probed in
my book The Hidden Shakespeare and the two others.

If there is a serious desire to probe deeply into Shakespeare to learn
his meaning and his thought, then we must take such allusions seriously.
  There are oceans of meaning to be found in such elements that will add
to the richness already evident if these are followed up as I have tried
to do and even I only scratch the surface.

David Basch

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Al Magary <
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Date:           Tuesday, 30 Nov 2004 18:46:33 -0800
Subject: 15.2031 Jewish Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.2031 Jewish Shakespeare

Headline and lead of an article in the Beirut Daily Star, about the
Globe's current "Shakespeare and Islam" exhibition
(http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=4&article_id=10527):

Sufi or not Sufi? Was Shakespeare a Muslim?

LONDON: There's an old joke about William Shakespeare being an Arab -
how else, it explains, can you account for the name, Sheikh Zubair....

Cheers,
Ibn al-Magary
(actually, I still am)

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