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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: November ::
Jewish Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1997  Monday, 22 November 2004

[1]     From:   D Bloom <
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        Date:   Friday, 19 Nov 2004 07:37:23 -0600
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.1974 Jewish Shakespeare

[2]     From:   David Basch <
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        Date:   Friday, 19 Nov 2004 14:08:05 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1986 Jewish Shakespeare

[3]     From:   Allan Axelrod <
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        Date:   Sunday, 21 Nov 2004 13:10:26 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1974 Jewish Shakespeare


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           D Bloom <
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Date:           Friday, 19 Nov 2004 07:37:23 -0600
Subject: 15.1974 Jewish Shakespeare
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.1974 Jewish Shakespeare

I, for one, would like to see a signed affidavit from Terence Hawkes
that he did not make up David Basch.

Bill Arnold's recent post wondering which Hamlet is the real Hamlet, and
questioning whether we can ever know the answer, has, I confess, badly
shaken me. What if he, too, is simply another fiction foisted on us by
Hawkes.

Where does reality leave off and fiction, illusion, delusion and madness
begin?

Or, as Shakespeare might say, "Oy vay."

don

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Basch <
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Date:           Friday, 19 Nov 2004 14:08:05 -0500
Subject: 15.1986 Jewish Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1986 Jewish Shakespeare

In regard to the skeptical comment about the possibility of a Jewish
Shakespeare, what makes him possibly Jewish are the signs he left in his
work using Talmudic and Medrashic elements that are recognizable by
culturally trained Jews. Hence, if the Earl of Oxford wrote
Shakespeare's work, then we would have to confront that he was Jewish.

In addition to communicating origins, these elements often turn out to
be pointers for meaning in some of the poet's plays.  For example, take
the Talmudic line, "What is mine is yours and what is yours in mine,"
located in the next-to-the-last line of Measure for Measure, would
indicate that the Duke was a foolish person since the Talmud asserts
that those who think like this are foolish. And when we examine the
play, we do find that the Duke erred in putting a moralist in charge
when he went on a trip and that he is superficial in thinking that
marriage provides a solution to relations between people.

I would also note the presence Talmudic controversies in Hamlet. For
example, there is a Talmudic controversy about whether it is permissible
to use the testimony of an angel (or other heavenly being) in order to
settle a point of Talmudic law. The Rabbis concluded that it was not
permissible but that earthly evidence is needed. This controversy is
enacted in Hamlet's reaction to his father's ghost. Hamlet does not act
on the say so of this spook but tries to prove the case right here on
earth by the King's reaction to the play Hamlet stages. This is not the
only such controversy in Hamlet.

While this knowledge alone does not absolutely prove Shakespeare was a
Jew, it sure shows he must have had intimate contact with Jewish
culture.  At the very least, this will have to be explained, as well as
what it was that the poet was trying to communicate with this abundant,
undeniable presence.

And, by the way, it is not only the fact that certain Jewish ideas are
found -- some of these ideas do appear in other cultures too-but it is
the manner in which the ideas are presented in the poet's work that
follow the manner of the setting of the original in Judaic teaching.
These are things that ought to be explored to see what new insights
emerge, a fertile source for advancement of our understanding of the poet.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Allan Axelrod <
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Date:           Sunday, 21 Nov 2004 13:10:26 -0500
Subject: 15.1974 Jewish Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1974 Jewish Shakespeare

I thought it was a commonplace among Shakespeare people, that  his
extraordinary perception of human variety was never contained by
ideology: the comic [red-wigged]  JEW in MoV utters some of WS' most
movingly eloquent poetry, and the paragons of Christianity include a
bigot who spets upon those unable to respond, a fortune-hunter, an
enthusiastic thief, and a nasty bit of work named Portia who lies to
lead on the inappropriately complexioned Prince of Morocco, and probably
cheats to get  Bassanio word about the casket.  The supposition that any
of this gang [or even poor Tubal] represent such trivial universals as
Christian or Jewish thought seems far-fetched.

Allan Axelrod

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