The Jew in Early English Literature

9780872031715: The Jew in Early English Literature
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From the early English ballads through Chaucer's Canterbury Tales to Marlow's Jew of Malta and Shakespeare's Shylock the Jew has been a frequent literary subject - generally as archvillain. In this impassioned and eloquent yet scholarly and incisive critique of early English literature the author has set out to prove that the always contemptuous characterization of the Jew was never based on observation but it was simply taken over from the New Testament. Through the careful analysis of the many surviving literary creations of the period and in the light of the history of the Jews in England before the expulsion, the author concludes that the Jew has been misrepresented and vilified on account of intolerance and fanaticism or because the artists knew no better. The author, a Dutch Christian, concludes this remarkable book, published almost 50 years ago, with the following prophetic words: "Let us hope for the Jews that there will again come a time when they will have a country of their own...and their Shylock will change like the Beast of the Fairy Tale into some beautiful prince..."

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