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Howard Jacobson's Shylock is full of mercy and compassion

This setting of the Merchant of Venice in Cheshire’s golden triangle is a serious comic masterpiece

30 January 2016

9:00 AM

30 January 2016

9:00 AM

Shylock is My Name Howard Jacobson

Vintage, pp.277, £16.99, ISBN: 9781781090282

Howard Jacobson’s novelistic riff on The Merchant of Venice for the Hogarth Shakespeare project turns, unsurprisingly, on what makes some people (in Jonathan Miller’s memorable self-describing formulation) Jew-ish. Is it the gentile’s anti-Semitism, with its manifestations varying from relatively polite social snubs to persecutions down the centuries, culminating in the Holocaust, that defines Jew-ishness? Or is it the self-identifying Jew’s own attitude or beliefs that make him part of a clan? (The idea that Jews are a ‘race’ is too silly to consider.

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