Shylock: A Legend and Its Legacy

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9780671883867: Shylock: A Legend and Its Legacy

Never has one character of the stage provoked such controversy or achieved such infamy as Shakespeare's enigmatic Shylock. For four centuries the money lender of "The Merchant of Venice" has been reinvented as both villain and victim, as an object of tragedy and comedy, and has been used as an economic symbol and often as a lightning rod for anti-Semitism. But what was Shakespeare's attitude toward the character described on the play's title page in 1600 as "a man of extreme crueltie", and what should be our own? With brilliant historical perspective and insight, theater critic John Gross explores the complex and influential history that has given Shylock a life beyond the play and established him as a figure of world mythology. Illuminating Shylock's evolution on the stage, his importance to writers and psychologists, and his enduring influence on society and culture, John Gross sheds as much light on our own shifting attitudes and beliefs as on the rich and disquieting figure Shakespeare created.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

Shylock--stereotype, archetype, icon--is, according to London Sunday Telegram theater-critic Gross (The Rise and Fall of the Man of Letters), the only character in a Shakespeare play to have an autonomous life. By tracing Shylock's origins and forms in literature, theater, and political and social history, Gross emphasizes his chameleonlike nature and what it reveals about the cultures in which he appears. An object of fun, contempt, pity, and rage, Shylock first appeared as the ``Satanic Jew''--the evil figure to be overcome--in The Merchant of Venice, written between 1596-98. An archetypal usurer with origins in folklore, politics, and popular culture, he embodied, says Gross, the era's ambiguities toward Jews, money, misers, and, on another level, toward emerging Economic Man, embodied in Shylock as a tough-minded businessman caught up in the court system and unable to protect his family or what he perceives as his rights. In the 18th century, Shylock was played as a clown, or as wolfish and cunning, until Edmund Kean's consummate interpretation in his London debut in 1814, a performance admired and immortalized by Hazlitt for the sympathy it evoked. A Victorian interpretation by Henry Irving displayed a Shylock possessed, the victim of persecution. Since then, Gross contends, literary critics from A.C. Bradley to Mark Van Doren, novelists from Sir Walter Scott to James Joyce, social theorists including Ruskin and Marx, psychologists from Freud to Reich, and all the great actors- -Gielgud, O'Toole, Olivier--have contributed to the evolution of a subtle, conflicted, mysterious Shylock who has acquired the archetypal dimensions of a Don Quixote or Robinson Crusoe. A lucid, perceptive, and learned guide that makes the familiar interesting and the esoteric familiar. A new incarnation for Shylock. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

Amazingly, Shylock is in only five scenes in the Merchant of Venice. Yet, as pointed out by Gross, the theater critic for the London Sunday Telegraph , his impact and significance transcend his physical presence, so much so that his name and "pound of flesh" idea are almost universally known. In the first part of this character/cultural study, Gross examines the antecedents of Shylock and the play, and his development within the play. The second part considers "interpretations" both theatrical and literary in England and America until World War II; the third part considers Shylock more broadly as a touchstone (e.g., how his "type" is used by the Victorians--Trollope's Lopez, Dickens's Riah, Ruskin's use of him in Munera Pulveris ). There's not much new here--Shylock and Merchant of Venice have both consumed tons of interpretive ink--but the book is readable and puts a lot of sundry information in one place. For collections heavy in Shakespeariana and/or Judaica.
- Robert E. Brown, Onondaga Cty. P.L., Syracuse, N.Y.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Book Description SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 1994. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.Like Don Quixote or Robinson Crusoe, Shylock is one of the great familiar figures of world drama, known even to people who have never read or seen The Merchant of Venice. He is also one of the most controversial characters ever conceived; his ambiguities have been a challenge to actors, directors, critics, and playgoers for more than four centuries. Is he villain or victim? Tragic or comic? What was Shakespeare s attitude toward the character described on the play s title page in 1600 as a man of extreame crueltie, and what should be our own? It was the brilliant notion of literary and theater critic John Gross to explore the complex and influential history that has given Shylock a life beyond the play and established him as a figure of world mythology. Beginning with the elements that went into Shylock s creation, Gross traces his evolution on the stage at the hands of legendary actors such as Charles Macklin and Edmund Kean on down to George C. Scott and Laurence Olivier. Shylock has enjoyed equally colorful treatment on the page, where he has troubled and stimulated writers as different as Marcel Proust, Henry James, Heinrich Heine, and Erica Jong. Gross pays particular attention to Jewish attitudes toward Shylock, and to his place in the history of anti-Semitism, his use as an economic symbol, and his importance to psychologists and psychoanalysts. The result is a remarkable cultural study that sheds as much light on our shifting attitudes and beliefs as on the rich and disquieting figure Shakespeare created. Bookseller Inventory # AAV9780671883867

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Book Description SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 1994. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. Like Don Quixote or Robinson Crusoe, Shylock is one of the great familiar figures of world drama, known even to people who have never read or seen The Merchant of Venice. He is also one of the most controversial characters ever conceived; his ambiguities have been a challenge to actors, directors, critics, and playgoers for more than four centuries. Is he villain or victim? Tragic or comic? What was Shakespeare s attitude toward the character described on the play s title page in 1600 as a man of extreame crueltie, and what should be our own? It was the brilliant notion of literary and theater critic John Gross to explore the complex and influential history that has given Shylock a life beyond the play and established him as a figure of world mythology. Beginning with the elements that went into Shylock s creation, Gross traces his evolution on the stage at the hands of legendary actors such as Charles Macklin and Edmund Kean on down to George C. Scott and Laurence Olivier. Shylock has enjoyed equally colorful treatment on the page, where he has troubled and stimulated writers as different as Marcel Proust, Henry James, Heinrich Heine, and Erica Jong. Gross pays particular attention to Jewish attitudes toward Shylock, and to his place in the history of anti-Semitism, his use as an economic symbol, and his importance to psychologists and psychoanalysts. The result is a remarkable cultural study that sheds as much light on our shifting attitudes and beliefs as on the rich and disquieting figure Shakespeare created. Bookseller Inventory # AAV9780671883867

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Book Description Touchstone. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Paperback. 384 pages. Dimensions: 8.3in. x 5.5in. x 1.1in.Never has one character of the stage provoked such controversy or achieved such infamy as Shakespeares enigmatic Shylock. For four centuries the money lender of The Merchant of Venice has been reinvented as both villain and victim, as an object of tragedy and comedy, and has been used as an economic symbol and often as a lightning rod for anti-Semitism. But what was Shakespeares attitude toward the character described on the plays title page in 1600 as a man of extreme crueltie, and what should be our own With brilliant historical perspective and insight, theater critic John Gross explores the complex and influential history that has given Shylock a life beyond the play and established him as a figure of world mythology. Illuminating Shylocks evolution on the stage, his importance to writers and psychologists, and his enduring influence on society and culture, John Gross sheds as much light on our own shifting attitudes and beliefs as on the rich and disquieting figure Shakespeare created. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Bookseller Inventory # 9780671883867

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