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September 9, 2013 1:16 pm

British Novelist Howard Jacobson Plans to Reimagine Shakespeare’s Shylock in New Book

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Howard Jacobson. Photo: Amazon.com.

British novelist Howard Jacobson plans to take on Shakespeare, rewriting the controversial “Merchant of Venice” with a decidedly more philo-Semitic twist, the BBC reported.

“For an English novelist, Shakespeare is where it all begins. For an English novelist who also happens to be Jewish, ‘The Merchant of Venice’  is where it all snarls up,” he was quoted as saying.

“Only a fool would think he has anything to add to Shakespeare. But Shakespeare probably never met a Jew, the Holocaust had not yet happened, and anti-Semitism didn’t have a name,” the author added.

Shakespeare’s merchant in “The Merchant of Venice” is a Jew named Shylock who possesses stereotypical anti-Semitic characteristics of Jews that became popular tropes in his era. To this day, however, critics debate whether Shakespeare meant for Shylock to be cast as a villain or hero.

Jacobson’s recasting is part of the Hogarth Shakespeare project.

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  • Frances

    I have just watched the tv programme about Shylock and the book, though I shut my ears at the end, as I want now to buy it and read it.
    What an interesting programme. I have seen The Merchant of Venice countless times and I always sympathise with Shylock because I would just have done the same. Even though it was a bad idea. Maybe there comes a point when you do something silly because you reach the end of endurance. Anyway, we regrettably were unable to go to the ciscussion this year about Shylock and antisemirism at the rst but maybe there will be another.
    Putting the programme on DVD for my daughter to see as I enjoyed it so much.

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