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View Diary: Bookflurries-Bookchat: First Impressions (144 comments)

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  •  hi (4+ / 0-)

    I know Merchant is controversial.  But it was supposed to be more humane in its time than someone's else's famous play and be an answer to it.

       

    Shylock:
        I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands,
        organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same
        food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases,
        heal'd by the same means, warm'd and cool'd by the same winter
        and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If
        you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?
        And if you wrong us, do we not revenge? If we are like you in the
        rest, we will resemble you in that.

        The Merchant Of Venice Act 3, scene 1, 58–68

    I will be interested in what you think.

    Join us at Bookflurries-Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

    by cfk on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 07:04:29 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  "Merchant" was advertsed as a COMEDY ... (4+ / 0-)

      ... and it is farcical, BUT ...

      I happen to think that it belongs in the same file with Taming of the Shrew -- not particularly funny unless one checks in one's decency at the cloakroom.

      "... when you find yourself in a hole, quit digging" -- Kos

      by MT Spaces on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 07:16:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sublime to kinda silly, but fun ... (3+ / 0-)

        (R to L) Actor Lynn Collins as Portia in Merchant of Venice; Ms. Collins as Dejah Thoris in John Carter (of Mars).

        I heard from a Romany circus lady about how woman actors had to sometimes disguise themselves as young men or boys to evade laws that kept their families from putting on plays in big cities like Paris or London.
        Sometimes there were males good enough to portray females, but then as now, they are rare.
        Many a Gypsy or Italian man took a bow and doffed his wig after one or more of his female relatives finished wowing the audience in a costume identical to his own.
        Often, in the countryside, nobody cared about the pretense -- the audience just wanted good shows.

        Take a look at Japan -- Kabuki gets away with this convention because of its extreme stylization, although there have been exceptional men.

        "... when you find yourself in a hole, quit digging" -- Kos

        by MT Spaces on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 07:45:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  This is very interesting (4+ / 0-)
          Many a Gypsy or Italian man took a bow and doffed his wig after one or more of his female relatives finished wowing the audience in a costume identical to his own.
          Thanks!

          Join us at Bookflurries-Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

          by cfk on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 07:50:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  "Theatre" was primarily a business ... (3+ / 0-)

            ... a FAMILY business to uncounted Italian and Romany clans throughout Europe.

            Shakespeare stole (and thus preserved) many great characters and stories from these hard-working people.

            (What few plots we have in print from the later Commedias are descriptions of characters, and the infuriating term lazzi -- meaning schtick or routines that they were afraid of committing to writing lest Bill and his ilk stole from them again.)

            "... when you find yourself in a hole, quit digging" -- Kos

            by MT Spaces on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 08:02:49 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  well, I am glad some were perserved...sigh (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              MT Spaces, Brecht

              I still think Shakespeare traveled to Italy.  This would add to that thought.

              Join us at Bookflurries-Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

              by cfk on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 08:12:31 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I doubt he traveled to Italy ... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                cfk, Brecht

                ... but nobody knows, and he didn't have to anyway.

                Italian gossip and lore were part of social currency all over Europe -- the civil warfare between Guelf and Ghiberlines beget the gang violence of Romeo and Juliet. Count Sforza of Milan was rumored to be a magician (his able engineer Leonardo was not a household name then), and his distant ancestor Count Visconti, also a Duke of Milan, deposed and imprisoned his uncle.
                The scenarios of the Italian Players were as well-known as Bugs Bunny cartoons. Shakespeare's company did themselves well by interpreting them in their own style -- like Barbra Streisand singing Laura Nyro's Stoney End.

                "... when you find yourself in a hole, quit digging" -- Kos

                by MT Spaces on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 08:25:21 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  Having seen both The Merchant of Venice (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cfk, MT Spaces, newdem1960, Brecht

      and Marlowe's The Jew of Malta, Shakespeare's certainly had more nuance.  Shylock is a villain, but a villain with an understandable motive as he's had to deal with abuse and contempt from his neighbors.  Marlowe's Barabas is just plain over-the-top eeeeeevil.

      Anti-Semitism was taken for granted in that era, and both Shakespeare and Marlowe have "greedy as a Jew" and suchlike comments in more than one play.  

      I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death; I am not on his payroll. - Edna St. Vincent Millay

      by Tara the Antisocial Social Worker on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 07:16:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Anti-semitism was egregious in those days (4+ / 0-)

        well, Jews were illegal in Britain for 400 years, I believe.

        It's been shocking me to find how recent widespread anti-semitism was: more common than not until the 1930s. The decade after that woke up the international liberal conscience.

        But Dickens, Trollope, Thackeray all have caricatures of Jews. Dostoevsky, whom I adore and admire, with such sympathy for all of humanity - terrible anti-semite.

        Eliot's the best by far in the 1800s, and she was anti-semitic until she educated hersout of it. But kudos to her for doing so.

        Fitzgerald and Sinclair Lewis too, and no doubt many more.

        "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

        by Brecht on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 08:15:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Reading stuff from other centuries (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cfk, Monsieur Georges, MT Spaces, Brecht

          I'm forever having to remind myself about the era's different mores around race, religion and (especially) gender.  But it jumps out at me in a big way, and I can't help trying to picture the roles reversed.

          I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death; I am not on his payroll. - Edna St. Vincent Millay

          by Tara the Antisocial Social Worker on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 09:08:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Looking through these different lenses and putting (3+ / 0-)

            ourselves in other people's shoes can be very enriching to our awareness and sensitivity. You may not need it, but I do. I mean I'm basically a dead white male, except I'm not dead yet.

            There is much to be hopeless about in the modern world, and plenty of hate and oppression, but our progress on the fronts you mention, our enlightenment relative to a century ago, gives some hope. Also how we view children, animals and the environment. I'm not saying enlightenment is winning, but it's clearly spread some.

            "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

            by Brecht on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 04:15:02 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Plus it has this beautiful exchange ... (4+ / 0-)
      LORENZO:
      The moon shines bright: in such a night as this,
      When the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees,
      And they did make no noise, in such a night,
      Troilus methinks mounted the Troyan walls,
      And sigh'd his soul toward the Grecian tents,
      Where Cressid lay that night.

      JESSICA:
      In such a night
      Did Thisby fearfully o'ertrip the dew,
      And saw the lion's shadow ere himself,
      And ran dismay'd away.

      LORENZO:
      In such a night
      Stood Dido with a willow in her hand
      Upon the wild sea-banks, and waft her love
      To come again to Carthage.

      JESSICA:
      In such a night
      Medea gather'd the enchanted herbs
      That did renew old Aeson. ...

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