Shakespeare and the Jews
Going against the grain of the dominant scholarship on the period, which generally ignores the impact of Jewish questions in early modern England, James Shapiro shows how Elizabethans imagined Jews to be utterly different from themselves - in religion, race, nationality, and even sexuality. From strange cases of Christians masquerading as Jews to bizarre proposals to settle foreign Jews in Ireland, Shakespeare and the Jews looks into the crisis of cultural identity in that post-Reformation world. Even as Shakespeare has come to embody Englishness itself, The Merchant of Venice, with its exploration of Jewish criminality, conversion, race, alien status, and national identity, now stands at the crossroads of cultural exclusion and cultural longing. In this formidably researched new book, Shapiro sheds fascinating light on the work of Shakespeare and his contemporaries and opens new questions about culture and identity in Elizabethan England.
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