The Merchant of Venice (The new Penguin Shakespeare) Paperback – 1 Apr 1967
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"Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions?" Shylock's impassioned plea in the middle of The Merchant of Venice is one of its most dramatic moments. After the Holocaust, the play has become a battleground for those who argue that the play represents Shakespeare's ultimate statement against ignorance and anti-Semitism in favour of a liberal vision of tolerance and multiculturalism. Other critics have pointed out that the play is, after all, a comedy that ultimately pokes fun at a 16th-century Jew. In fact, the bare outline of the plot suggests that the play is far more complex than either of these characterisations. Bassanio, a feckless young Venetian, asks his wealthy friend, the merchant Antonio, for money to finance a trip to woo the beautiful Portia in Belmont. Reluctant to refuse his friend (to whom he professes intense love), Antonio borrows the money from the Jewish moneylender. If he reneges on the deal, Shylock jokingly demands a pound of his flesh. When all Antonio's ships are lost at sea, Shylock calls in his debt, and the love and laughter of the first scenes of the play threaten to give way to death and tragedy. The final climactic courtroom scene, complete with a cross-dressed Portia, a knife-wielding Shylock, and the debate on "the quality of mercy" is one of the great dramatic moments in Shakespeare. The controversial subject matter of the play ensures that it continues to repel, divide but also fascinate its many audiences. --Jerry Brotton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
'The introduction and commentary reveal an author with a lively awareness of the importance of perceiving the play as a theatrical document, one which comes to life, which is completed only in performance …' The Review of English Studies --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Normally Arden editions are my edition of choice by a long way, and that is still true here. But the introduction is rather dated in this edition - it was written around 50 years ago - and this means that some issues in the play (notably the potentially homosexual relationship between Antonio and Bassanio) are totally skimmed over, where in a recently written edition I am sure this would be explored in full. Having said that, though, the notes are informative to the right level and the text is authoritative.
The dated intro means I've dropped it a star... If Arden bring out a new edition it'll get a fifth...
Attractive full-page photographs of recent productions allow students to see that these are plays that are regularly performed in the theatre in many different styles and time settings. My students are always pleased if they recognize an actor from the telly in them!
Beyond the text, there are helpful resumes of the action, both a brief one and a more complete summary, interesting background and historical information and, varied and thought-provoking assignments that can work well with a variety of different levels and age groups - always a relief for hard-pressed teachers!
I think Oxford School Shakespeare editions work well and I recommend them for use with classes from years 8 to 11. For a more drama-based approach, try the new Longman's or Cambridge School editions.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book was a great help with my daughters Foundation Course at University. if you can also buy The Merchant Of Venice (York Notes) which works great alongside this book.Published on 22 Mar. 2013 by S. Coulton
Good version - but the new RSC Macmillan series is better although this title not yet available in that series.Published on 15 July 2009 by Ripple
This is the story of a merchant who's (probably gay)love of Bassanio allows him to borrow money from a man he hates, for Bassanio's sake. Read morePublished on 23 Aug. 2002 by Davy Steven Colin
This is a wonderful play - and unless you have seen it or read it you don't know it at all. That's because everything the popular culture tells us about this play is false (for... Read morePublished on 31 July 2002 by Tom Blair