You don't have to know The Merchant of Venice. The ending, too, is a good jest, and there are some good jokes en route (his protagonist has a reputation for making jokes). The other half is Shylock. Top subscription boxes – right to your door, © 1996-2020,, Inc. or its affiliates. Reviewed in the United States on February 16, 2016. But the other characters in the novel never meet their counterparts from the play, and their resemblance to those counterparts is not always very deep. I have told you: when the story stopped, I stop.". The conflict between Strulovitch and D’Anton, by contrast, remains entirely below-the-belt. To order Shylock Is My Name for £12.99 (RRP £16.99) go to or call 0330 333 6846.

Strulovitch knows all along that D’Anton is the only real candidate to be Gratan’s proxy, so he leaves his enemy with a hard choice: disgrace and prosecution or the bris. Shylock is not a Jewish name. It helps to know The Merchant of Venice, for the references and there are obviously parallels between the two. Reviewed in the United States on August 19, 2018, I chose this book because of the author's status as a Man-Booker Prize awardee. It was perhaps inevitable that he would end up with Merchant of Venice in the Hogarth enterprise. One of the most unsettling things about The Merchant of Venice has always been the blackand-white realness of Shylock: compared to the cast of logic-chopping Venetian fops and courtiers, with their party games and cross-dressing stage trials, he comes across as a creature of monolithic sincerity and intent.

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Strulovitch’s conflict with D’Anton, the counterpart to Shakespeare’s Antonio, grows first from petty slights and subtle expressions of the latter’s genteel, soft-spoken, and always plausibly deniable hatred of Jews.
Jacobson proves that one can work unchained from one’s source material and create something unique while remaining true its original themes. Shylock isn't a ghost, or a figment of the imagination, or even a manifestation of the "Shylock envy" that becomes one of the book's themes as Strulovitch struggles to work out how much of a serious Jew - or how serious, and how much of a Jew - he wishes to be. S HYLOCK IS MY NAME by Howard Jacobson 288PP, Hogarth, £16.99, ebook £9.99. They were dark with that Rembrandtian darkness that holds light. ride in showbusiness, Joanna Lumley interview: 'We forget how frightening all this bad news is for older people', Exclusive: Paradise Lost author John Milton whipped by Cambridge tutor when he was seventeen, Girls Against God by Jenny Hval, review: the goths rebel in rural Norway, How ‘Bosie’ transformed Oscar Wilde’s life – and mine, Poem of the week: Crow Goes Hunting by Ted Hughes, The International Brigades by Giles Tremlett review: the rag-tag army who took on Franco’s fascists, Martin and Shirlie Kemp: 'We lost everything but it made our marriage stronger', The Swiss Army Knife of the sky: how the Sea Harrier won the Falklands War, The Gambler, by Tom Bower, review: a catty, colourful portrait of Boris the unbreakable. As a gentile, I found the exploration of Jewishness thought provoking and educational. by Kevin Barry, review: stories of solitude that are far from glum, To the End of the World How it is, that over many years of friendship and teaching Shakespeare together we never discussed The Merchant of Venice, I cannot explain. That Old Country Music Strulovitch gradually grows into his role as an implacable modern Shylock under the ambivalent tutelage of the original. Find all the books, read about the author, and more. Belmont, which functions as a haven in the play, is absent from the novel, where everything is smeared with the same tawdriness. Jacobson’s counterpart to Shylock, a Jewish art collector named Simon Strulovitch, doesn’t seem very surprised when he runs into the original Shylock in a graveyard: “Of course Shylock is here, among the dead. More strikingly, they aren't quite the same as the original characters, and he does come up with some neat parallels for (say) the caskets in the play. "What other explanation would satisfy an unbeliever such as you? Resembling Platonic dialogues, they range from the events in The Merchant of Venice ("I still don't know how firm my intention was," says Shylock. But first, Chile must get past the pandemic. There's a problem loading this menu right now. © 2020 Commonweal Magazine. Sign up to get a pre-publication copy in exchange for a review. So what was it Gentiles saw that told them they were both Jews? So how well do we know The Merchant of… To be clear, I am reading the novel a second time.

As soon as I started to read, I was enthralled. Although much of its appeal comes from the way it revisits the questions of The Merchant of Venice, even readers unfamiliar with the original play will find Jacobson’s Shylock a scintillating character. For his part, Shylock wavers between playing Mephistopheles and trying to dissuade Strulovitch from pursuing vengeance. But Beatrice has other ideas, and her adolescence is a furious sequence of sexual captures and recaptures which culminate in her making the acquaintance of a local celebrity, the heiress and TV host Anna Livia Plurabelle Cleopatra a Thing of Beauty Is a Joy Forever Christine Shalcross, Plury for short. The characters are vividly drawn and compelling. It felt like a great miss when I was reading Shylock is my name. Unless we're in Judea and Samaria, where we're accused of being Nazis").