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The Merchant of Venice (The Laurel Shakespeare)

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Book Overview

In The Merchant of Venice, the path to marriage is hazardous. To win Portia, Bassanio must pass a test prescribed by her father's will, choosing correctly among three caskets or chests. If he fails,... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Good translation

The play has the original on one page, a modern verse translation on the other. The translation is solid, not simplisitic. Book could be imporved with an essaya or two on the play's meaning. It is one of Shakespeare's more ambivalnt plays, with no one character especially likeable, sort of like the characters on "Survivor Island."

never sent, but honest

This book was never sent because the book distributor said the condition of the book turned out to be not as good as presented. I appreciated their honesty.

Great Edition

I really recommend this edition of "The Merchant of Venice" -- in fact, all of the New Cambridge Shakespeare. They are easily readable editions, and the extensive frontmatter -- introduction, commentary, background to the play, performance history -- are all wonderful, and add a lot to the experience. I recently purchased this edition of "The Merchant of Venice" along with the Arkangel CD of the play, and listened along while reading. It was a wonderful way to approach the play. And when I saw the recent production here in New York with F. Murray Abraham in the role of Shylock, I was very well prepared. Having read and listened to the play before seeing it made the whole experience much deeper.

Shakespeare's Controversial Comedy

Merchant may be one of Shakespeare's more challenging works for the modern reader. The obvious anti-semitism that underlies much of the plot and language and the forceable conversion of Shylock to Christianity near the end of the play is difficult to reconcile in our own age. Nevertheless Merchant is categorized as a comedy and despite some of it's darker elements retains the classic comic devices of disguises , crossdressing and the denoument of festivity and multiple marriages. What seperates this from some of the other comedies is the relatively unsympathetic characters of the major protaganists. As they celebrate their weddings and the fact that all is set right in the world the reader is left to wonder about the fate of the ostensibly evil character of Shylock. While the Merchant Antonio's fortunes are restored, Shylock is left without means. A statement perhaps regarding the practice of usury , but to me Antonio's enterprise and his willingness to commit to a bond with the moneylender when it suits him implies that Shylock has earned a rightful place in the economic world of Venice. It is his insistance on the strict adherence to his bond that ultimately leads to his undoing. As Portia provides an idyllic description on the quality of Mercy, she and her circle dispense no mercy to Shylock in their judgement of him. Would Shylock , in an alternate ending, realizing his stubborness and forgiving the bond and being restored to his place in the community provided a more satisfying result in a comedy? Merchant is as a result of Shakespeare's choice of ending one of if not the most controversial of his major works and is a play that leaves one in doubt regarding an appropriate reaction to it's ending.

Very Potent for a "Comedy"

The New Folger Library delivers again. I will not buy any Shakespeare from any other publisher - Signet Classics or anyone else. Folger has the best version hands down with its useful words and phrases on the left-hand page to help you out if necessary and give you a deeper understanding of the many references to outdated historical religious figures Shakespeare includes in The Merchant of Venice. A "Comedy"? I know technically its a comedy, but nonetheless with the less than comical themes of greed, morality, and anti-semitism, its hardly a laugh riot. Au contraire, it is Shakespeare's tour de force amongst his many enchanting comedies - much more potent and provocative than Midsummer Night's Dream. It's a shame it is banned in many high schools and colleges throughout the U.S. due to its supposed anti-semitism. A must read for any Shakespeare enthusiast."A pound of flesh is the bond."

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The Merchant of Venice in Modern Novels Based on Shakespearean Plays
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Published by Bianca Smith • April 23, 2018
All the Thee and Thou can make it hard to enjoy Shakespearean plays, but these novels make it easier.
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