My second thoughts on The Merchant of Venice
find of interest a 2006 entry
in which I conclude, very regretfully, that Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice
is anti-Semitic, a view I had previously rejected.
- end of initial entry -
Jeff W. writes:
You mentioned The Merchant of Venice, and it made me want to pass along some thoughts, just FYI.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 08, 2010 10:39 AM | Send
Many people, of course, do not believe that the Shakespeare plays were actually written by William Shakespeare. One widely-accepted theory is that they were written by Edward DeVere, the Duke of Oxford, perhaps with the help of a talented committee of writers that may have included Christopher Marlowe, among others.
It is known that the productions were government-financed. They were financed by the queen, or by others of the nobility. The purpose of this government financing seems to me twofold. First (in a way similar to Soviet art and music) it was to establish England’s reputation as a cultural center. Second it was to distribute pro-government propaganda. It is easy to see the nationalistic propaganda value, for instance, in the play Henry V.
So with this as backround, I was recently reading the book “This Time Is Different: 800 Years of Financial Folly” by Rogoff and Reinhart, which is a study of hundreds of government debt defaults.
In that book, it said that England defaulted on debt in 1594. This is a very obscure historical event, and the authors were not even sure if it was a default on external or internal debt. The book provides no details (many of these defaults are not well recorded in history).
The thought I had in reading that is that there may have been propaganda value in 1596 in demonizing Italian and/or Jewish moneylenders of the type that might have, at that time, been threatening retribution against the deadbeat queen.
It is just a thought to pass along. It may put into perspective the question of whether Shakespeare was anti-Semitic.