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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: June ::
The Big Question
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0577  Tuesday, 20 June 2006

[1] 	From: 	Paul E. Doniger <
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	Date: 	Monday, 19 Jun 2006 16:38:49 -0700 (PDT)
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0572 The Big Question

[2] 	From: 	Donald Bloom <
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	Date: 	Tuesday, 20 Jun 2006 10:46:44 -0500
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 17.0572 The Big Question


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Paul E. Doniger <
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Date: 		Monday, 19 Jun 2006 16:38:49 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 17.0572 The Big Question
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0572 The Big Question

JD Markel writes: "I think the idea 'bad Jew' line originated in a book 
by Martin Yaffe, though it was a more complex issue for him."

I'm not sure of the complexity of the issue, but I think the idea 
predates Yaffe's Shylock and the Jewish Question (1997). In the BBC 
series Playing Shakespeare and the accompanying book, RSC director John 
Barton discusses this idea in one episode with Patrick Stewart and David 
Suchet.  I can't remember which episode it is, but it appears in chapter 
10 of the book ("Exploring Character-Playing Shylock").  The video 
series was produced in 1983-84 and the book published in '84 by Metheun 
(now available from Anchor Books). I'm not sure that the idea originated 
with John Barton, but he certainly discusses it a decade and more before 
Yaffe's book. Is there an earlier book or paper by Yaffe?

Thanks,
Paul E. Doniger

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Donald Bloom <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 20 Jun 2006 10:46:44 -0500
Subject: 17.0572 The Big Question
Comment: 	RE: SHK 17.0572 The Big Question

Joseph Egert quotes me: "Don Bloom explains: 'I use "judicial murder" to 
refer to the use (or misuse) of the law to cause the death of another 
person without any justification on grounds of self-defense or other need.'"

And he goes on: "While sympathizing with its emotive thrust, I 
nonetheless find the explanation as confusing and circular as the phrase 
itself."

I find myself at a loss. What is circular about this definition? How 
could it be made linear? If the problem is the qualifier "judicial" then 
we are at an impasse, I'm afraid, because I have defined it as best I can.

I'm afraid I have to throw it back to JE. How would you define what 
Shylock attempts to do to Antonio? He certainly attempts to have him 
killed, though Antonio is no threat to his own life or the life of 
someone he is trying to protect (say, Jessica). On the contrary, he does 
so with malice (or something) aforethought, when Antonio is helpless. 
What term do we use for this act?

As to the personal matter. I used "slander" because JE did, and issued 
my qualification because I detest the name-calling that Hardy has so 
successfully suppressed, and wished to make it clear that I had no 
intention of getting into it, even inadvertently.

As to the straw man question, my effort to make clear what kind of 
morality applies to MOV arises from a sense that people are evading the 
issue of what Shylock does (or attempts to do). When they firmly state 
their judgments then I can agree or disagree. But when we have a 
constant sniping at Portia, Antonio, Bassanio, et al., mingled with an 
equally consistent pity for Shylock then I am made uneasy as to what is 
considered moral conduct and what is not.

If, as Ed Taft has suggested, everyone agrees with me (that Shylock is a 
murderer, and a particularly cruel and malicious one), then I am indeed 
beating up a straw man and will drop the subject. If they don't agree 
with me, then I'm not and I can legitimately ignore the charge.

I find the matter of exonerating people of heinous offenses because they 
or their kind have at some time been victimized very troubling.

Cheers,
don

PS. For a victim, Shylock seems to have done extremely well in Venice. 
He operates in the same mercantile system as Antonio and has made 
himself vastly wealthy. I do not say he isn't troubled by discriminatory 
laws (we don't get much information on the subject), but they certainly 
haven't affected his financial success.

PPS. Can someone point out the passage where Jessica is deserted by Lorenzo?

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