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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: November ::
"Translated and Improved"
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1903  Thursday, 17 November 2005

[1] 	From: 	Florence Amit <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 16 Nov 2005 20:05:04 +0200
	Subj: 	"Translated and Improved"

[2] 	From: 	Peter Bridgman <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 16 Nov 2005 20:17:18 -0000
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1890 "Translated and Improved"

[3] 	From: 	HR Greenberg <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 16 Nov 2005 23:21:46 EST
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1890 "Translated and Improved"

[4] 	From: 	Florence Amit <
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	Date: 	Thursday, 17 Nov 2005 15:26:27 +0200
	Subj: 	"TRANSLATED AND IMPROVED"


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Florence Amit <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 16 Nov 2005 20:05:04 +0200
Subject: 	Subject: "Translated and Improved"

Shylock's Character

Are there yet those who feel that a "sympathetic" view of a Jew's 
perceived sins will be sufficient, while the true exposition of his 
blameless qualities, faithfully portrayed in a great work of art may be 
disregarded? A pitiful, defective Shylock like Radford's, is not new. 
Many examples have been staged since Victorian times, after medieval 
devilish varieties became unsupportable. All such travesties must be 
scorned. Radford's raja like condescension remains an insult to 
Shakespeare's high morality and comprehension as well as to Jewish 
merit. If instead, it was a case of a realistic though 'unsympathetic' 
Jewish character, like Bud Schulberg's Sammy, of "What Makes Sammy Run", 
I would make no objection. Not every Jew is a perfect human specimen. 
But I do object to the on-going false representation of a virtuous 
religious Jewish character, who challenges the unjust rulings of the 
Italian Inquisition by extraordinarily inciting the wrath of local 
Christians. Early in the play Shylock all but professes to the gentile 
Antonio that like Biblical Jacob in confrontation with Laban, he is 
compelled to resort to a scheme of justifiable deception because of a 
matter of dire consequence. I believe that Shakespeare created in 
Shylock the most correctly oriented old man of his entire canon. At a 
time of supreme physical weakness he lends himself to a gamble that may 
just succeed to provide a SHAI LOCH: in Hebrew, "a present to you", to 
his daughter and heir, so that her family will survive in an unfamiliar, 
Ottoman place of refuge. Radford's problem, besides his attitude is that 
he neither knows how to read history nor Shakespeare's play.  Sadly, it 
would seem others are similarly limited.

Backgrounds and  Foregrounds  for "The Merchant of Venice"

It is often noticed of Shakespeare that he choose regal persons as the 
heroes for many of his plays. Considering his time, clearly he was not 
alone in this. Like others he did replay the histories of kings and 
senators and dramatize the tragedies of princes. That must have put such 
high personages definitely in the forefront of his mind, causing him to 
consider some basic variations - for those who may be enhanced may 
likewise be diminished. King Lear for example, moves from palace to 
hovel in order to find true greatness of spirit. What then if the 
selected subject is a community in exile who cannot have a supreme ruler 
that will represent it? Would that cause Shakespeare's viewpoint to be 
diverted in order to harmonize with the high and mighty of the place of 
exile? In another time, would he have caused us to celebrate the king of 
the Persians and his lackey, Haman who despised the Jews rather than 
Purim's legendary Mordechai and Esther?  Surely the poet's morality 
would determine his choice of whose story he should be telling. So then, 
if it is decided that "The Merchant of Venice" is William Shakespeare's 
tale of a subject people who was being unreasonably persecuted does it 
remain feasible to maintain that he would persevere with high personages 
of the Christian world by anchoring their thoughts, reaffirming their 
concepts and coming to their conclusions? Will we continue to echo this 
would-be partiality without submitting it to a Jewish set of values and 
conditions? Indeed the very language used by Hebrew speaking exiles can 
be full of allusions that the audience never dreamt of, but which are 
never the less faithful to the poet's choice of subject. Perhaps we may 
begin to ascertain the conditions prevailing for that subject people 
depicted in the play after we settle in our mind that the primacy of a 
Doge and Pope will not be regarded, although their uncompromising 
decrees remain in force to form the play's milieu.  As for Jewish and 
other people of worth, we will have to unveil them according to the 
outcome of their endeavors. So then, for the sake of veracity, I tell 
the spectator who accepts these conclusions, to be cautious about 
ostensible words spelled out in the English text that carry out 
purposeful deceptions or inhibit authentic concepts.

Florence

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Peter Bridgman <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 16 Nov 2005 20:17:18 -0000
Subject: 16.1890 "Translated and Improved"
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1890 "Translated and Improved"

David Basch writes ...

 >Antonio had in the past shunned such transactions since, taking as
 >absolute the Bible's prohibition against lending on interest (actually
 >only to co-religionists) ...

Where is the prohibition in the Bible?  I ask because last Sunday's 
gospel, the 'parable of the talents', seems to condone the practice ...

"His master answered him, "You wicked and lazy servant!  ... you should 
have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have 
recovered my capital with interest"." (Matt. 25: 26-27).

Peter Bridgman

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		HR Greenberg <
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 >
Date: 		Wednesday, 16 Nov 2005 23:21:46 EST
Subject: 16.1890 "Translated and Improved"
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1890 "Translated and Improved"

In fact, the advertisement put up by the so far unknown Yiddish 2nd 
Avenue entrepreneur went as follows and I have this from YIVO

HAMLET
SCHAUSPIEL VON SHAKESPEARE
VERANDERT AND VERBESSERT

Hamlet
Drama by Shakespeare
Alerted changed  etc  and improved

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Florence Amit <
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Date: 		Thursday, 17 Nov 2005 15:26:27 +0200
Subject: 	"TRANSLATED AND IMPROVED"

Dear forum,

My previous mailing was general. Now I would like to answer David Basch. 
I have not seen the film but according to David's description it 
captures "all the color and scruffiness of real life Venice."

  Was Renaissance Venice really scruffy? We are not speaking of London. 
  I have books that show a very elegant city.

"Unkempt hair and shaggy beards abound everywhere."

  Not according to Titian, Tintoretto and others painters. This ought to 
be checked out.

  "He makes Shylock noble, bigger than life, and ultra sympathetic."

This I answered in my previous posting. I do not agree with David that 
Antonio is a coreligionist of Shylock; otherwise 1.He would have 
recognized the weekly readings from the Torah about Laban and Jacob 
instead of giving his own prejudicial interpretation. 2. His friends 
Salerio and Solanio would not have made the distinctions that they did 
differentiating between Antonio, his prot

 

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