Shylock: The History of a Character

Shylock: The History of a Character

Shylock: The History of a Character

Shylock: The History of a Character


SHAKESPEARE CREATED THE greatest Jewish character since the Bible. Necessarily, he has thus recorded Judaism--that is to say, he has made and written Jewish history.

This book is intended as a tribute to him for this by interpreting Shylock from the Jewish Point of view.

In doing so, Shylock has to be treated, not only as a fictitious character, but also as a figure in Jewish history. His atmosphere is that of the sixteenth century, but, by virtue of Shakespeare's genius, he moves within the perennial destiny of the Jewish people from Biblical times down to the present day.

While I was at work, I was often asked if I was writing a topical book. This was my reply:

I am not aware that Danish courtiers are still regarded as loquacious Poloniuses or Moors as jealous and murderous Othellos. The Jews, however, are still looked upon as Shylocks, or, rather, Shylock still stands for the Jews. Therefore the book is topical.

I have purposely refrained from paving the book with notes and references, as it would have been easy for me to do, in order not to trouble the reader, whom I have primarily in mind, who is not interested in research. The scholar is sure to collect the references from the bibliography at the end of the book, incomplete though it is.

BERLIN. March, 1937.

LONDON. May, 1943.

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