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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: June ::
Anti-Semitism
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1109  Saturday, 18 June 2005

[1]     From:   Joachim Martillo <
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        Date:   Thursday, 16 Jun 2005 13:19:50 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1101 Anti-Semitism

[2]     From:   Fran Teague <
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        Date:   Thursday, 16 Jun 2005 13:53:46 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1101 Anti-Semitism


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joachim Martillo <
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Date:           Thursday, 16 Jun 2005 13:19:50 EDT
Subject: 16.1101 Anti-Semitism
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1101 Anti-Semitism

I have some real qualms about the terminology of this discussion.

There is an underlying assumption in this discussion that there is one
single phenomenon of anti-Semitism.  Since I began to do business in
Israel in 1993, I have come to question this idea and believe it belongs
more to the realm of political and social mythology.

Religious myths of 16th and 17th England, where there were no Jews, do
not have much in common with the biological determinist nonsense of
modern Central and Eastern European extremist organic nationalists and
ethnic fundamentalists.

16th and 17th century English Protestants were probably aware of the
Catholic accusation of Judaization, and more to the point part of the
joke in Merchant of Venice is the lack of difference in the behavior of
the Jewish unbeliever and the ethically superior believing Christians.

The mythological references in the last scene were ironic, and literate
Elizabethans would have understood them.

Shakespeare may well have written the play on two levels --

one for the crude less educated penny audience that watched from the
ground and that would see in the play some of the traditional
anti-Jewish mythology and

another for the more sophisticated audience in the boxes that would
understand the lampooning of hypocrisy of the religious (an issue at the
beginning of the 17th century), and also the meditation on some of the
social developments (contracts become as potentially a dangerous weapon
as swords).

Shakespeare also apparently did not have much patience for the person
who tried to justify his maliciousness on past victimizations.

Joachim Martillo

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Fran Teague <
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Date:           Thursday, 16 Jun 2005 13:53:46 -0400
Subject: 16.1101 Anti-Semitism
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1101 Anti-Semitism

I am a bit surprised that no one has mentioned Hermenn Sinsheimer's,
Shylock: The History of a Character, a book that has its own fascinating
history.

Fran Teague
http://www.english.uga.edu/~fteague

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