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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: September ::
Shakespeare's Leap
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1766  Tuesday, 28 September 2004

[1]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Monday, 27 Sep 2004 13:35:39 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1760 Shakespeare's Leap

[2]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Monday, 27 Sep 2004 13:44:13 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1760 Shakespeare's Leap

[3]     From:   Colin Cox <
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        Date:   Monday, 27 Sep 2004 13:32:28 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1760 Shakespeare's Leap

[4]     From:   John W. Kennedy <
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        Date:   Monday, 27 Sep 2004 20:43:15 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1760 Shakespeare's Leap

[5]     From:   John Drakakis <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Sep 2004 11:42:53 +0100
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.1760 Shakespeare's Leap


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Monday, 27 Sep 2004 13:35:39 -0400
Subject: 15.1760 Shakespeare's Leap
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1760 Shakespeare's Leap

 >There is no evidence whatever that the two ever met; neither is it
 >particularly probable; neither is there any evidence that Dr. Lopez was
 >any sort of "inspiration", beyond the obvious fact that his execution
 >probably played a part in Shakespeare's decision to write a play with a
 >Jewish villain.

There is the passing reference to "a wolf hanged for human slaughter,"
generally taken as a reference to Lopez -- more accurately Lopes, as he
was Portuguese -- since the name evokes "lupus."  Beyond that, I can't
see any "inspiration."

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Monday, 27 Sep 2004 13:44:13 -0400
Subject: 15.1760 Shakespeare's Leap
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1760 Shakespeare's Leap

 >Shylock's plea that he be recognized as a human being was perceived as
 >nothing more than the crafty outburst of a despised comic villain.
 >Without question, his plea was answered by unqualified laughter and
 >banter by Shakespeare's audiences.

Precisely!  Consider the similar scenes in WWII era films -- vide Ernst
Lubitsch's "To Be Or Not To Be" -- where a comic Nazi character express
bewilderment at why he should be regarded with low esteem, as he has a
discriminating taste for good music, wine and women.   Try this:  Go
through the "Hath not a Jew" speech and substitute "Nazi" for "Jew."

Shylock says only that he is human.  But no one ever denied that; what
was questioned was not his humanity but his humaneness.  Shylock is too
literal to understand the distinction, and that's the humour of it.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Colin Cox <
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Date:           Monday, 27 Sep 2004 13:32:28 -0700
Subject: 15.1760 Shakespeare's Leap
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1760 Shakespeare's Leap

 >There is no evidence whatever that the two ever met; neither is it
 >particularly probable; neither is there any evidence that Dr. Lopez was
 >any sort of "inspiration", beyond the obvious fact that his execution
 >probably played a part in Shakespeare's decision to write a play with a
 >Jewish villain.

It's a little disconcerting to be told there is absolutely no evidence;
especially if there is absolutely no evidence because then neither
statement can possibly be true. An internal paradox or would it be a
paradigm? Sounds Churchillian!

As to the Lopez question, I grant there is no, "Hi Will, how are you?"
"Fine thanks, Dr. Lopez" moment that can be pinpointed in the chronicles
of Shakespearean Scholarship.

However, there's a ton o' fun to be had with the possibilities. Lopez
was an ardent friend of Antonio Perez. He was despised by Robert
Devereux. I see Will in the mix.

Also, Gratiano's comments in the trial with regard to 'wolf', while
again extremely debatable as to intent of meaning, might, as a long
shot, be grounds for enquiry?

Colin Cox

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John W. Kennedy <
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Date:           Monday, 27 Sep 2004 20:43:15 -0400
Subject: 15.1760 Shakespeare's Leap
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1760 Shakespeare's Leap

Melvyn R. Leventhal <
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 >

 >Thus
 >Shylock's plea that he be recognized as a human being was perceived as
 >nothing more than the crafty outburst of a despised comic villain.
 >Without question, his plea was answered by unqualified laughter and
 >banter by Shakespeare's audiences.

In light of my previous response on this very thread, I may seem to be
reversing course here, but I cannot easily accept this position either.
Shakespeare's great mastery was in character, and /Merchant/ is far
closer in time to /Hamlet/ than, say, /Errors/. Granted that Shylock is
a comic villain in a comic play, yet why should not Shakespeare take a
moment to let us see into his heart? He does as much for Claudius.

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Drakakis <
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Date:           Tuesday, 28 Sep 2004 11:42:53 +0100
Subject: 15.1760 Shakespeare's Leap
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.1760 Shakespeare's Leap

Melvyn Leventhal is right, I think.

I'm fascinated by the scenario that Greenblatt constructs, but it is
speculative.  The problem arises in this play because Shakespeare gives
the Jew a 'voice'.  I wonder if we should not treat the term 'Jew' in
this context in the same way that we have come to treat the term
'puritan'.  In the play the two are not entirely unconnected.

Cheers
John Drakakis

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