The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice

Synopsis

This edition of The Merchant of Venice, based on a fresh examination of the early editions, includes an exceptionally lucid and accessible introduction which addresses Shakespeare's attitude toward Semitism and establishes the cultural, historical, and literary context in which Shakespeare wrote the play. An interesting range of production photographs and drawings of Renaissance merchants and Jews, and a survey of the play's stage history ranging from discussions of its early staging to important twentieth-century productions and performances outside England, particularly Israel, makes this an ideal edition for students, actors, and the general reader.

Excerpt

I Am deeply grateful to many who have assisted in the work of this edition, especially Thomas Clayton, who read all of the Introduction, to the General Editor, Stanley Wells, who made many useful suggestions and corrections, and to Edwin F. Pritchard, who was a most careful copy-editor. Had it not been for their painstaking labour on my behalf, many more errors and faults would have escaped my notice; those that remain are entirely my responsibility. George Walton Williams and Richard Kennedy not only kindly sent me unpublished manuscripts that illuminated aspects of the text, but also read an earlier version of the textual analysis. James Shapiro made several valuable comments on 'Shakespeare and Semitism'. Meghan Cronin and Christine Volonte, graduate assistants in English at the University of Delaware, helped in the research and checking the typescript. Marcia Halio also read the Introduction in manuscript, and Frances Whistler assisted greatly with the proof-reading. Finally, I owe a large debt of thanks to the personnel and resources of the Morris Library of the University of Delaware and to those of the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Shakespeare Centre Library, Stratford-upon- Avon, for helping to bring this edition to completion.

Note: As this edition was being printed, John Gross's valuable study, Shylock: Four Hundred Years in the Life of a Legend, appeared. Unfortunately, I was unable to make use of its many cogent arguments or information, either in the Introduction or the Commentary. Gross is especially useful in some aspects of the stage history, since he surveys a great many more productions than space permits here. He is also extremely interesting in tracing The Merchant's role, and specifically Shylock's, in the history of anti-Semitism in the western world, a major focus of his book, as its subtitle indicates. In his analysis of the background to the play, or to Semitism in England before and during the time of Shakespeare, he covers much the same ground as I do in the first part of this Introduction, but he does not add anything substantially new . . .

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