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Merchant of Venice

ISBN-10: 0393925293
ISBN-13: 9780393925296
Edition: 2006
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Description: The Merchant of Venice is one of Shakespeare's most beautiful plays and, conversely, his ugliest. Juxtaposed within the same conceptual frame are heavenly and musical harmonies, romantic love, materialism, and racism. This Norton Critical Edition  More...

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Book details

Copyright year: 2006
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company, Incorporated
Publication date: 12/27/2005
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 355
Size: 5.25" wide x 7.75" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 1.012
Language: English

The Merchant of Venice is one of Shakespeare's most beautiful plays and, conversely, his ugliest. Juxtaposed within the same conceptual frame are heavenly and musical harmonies, romantic love, materialism, and racism. This Norton Critical Edition has been carefully edited to make The Merchant of Venice, its surrounding history, and the history of its critical reception and rewritings accessible to readers. The text of this edition is based on the 1600 First Quarto, with light editing and substantial explanatory annotations by Leah S. Marcus. "Sources and Contexts" largely focuses on the character of Shylock and the issue of anti-Semitism in the play. Materials included are diverse, and at times contradictory, allowing readers to draw their own conclusions. Examples include seventeenth-century anti-Semitic literature, an essay from the same period defending Jews and arguing for their repatriation in England, an examination of the Christian theology of the play, and readings of The Merchant of Venice as exclusionary for Jews, women, and people of color. "Criticism" collects twenty-one diverse interpretations. In addition to Shylock and the question of anti-Semitism, these essays address The Merchant of Venice in the context of postcolonial, feminist, and queer theory and explore relevant issues of economic status and organization. "Rewritings and Appropriations" includes excerpts from dramatic, musical, and other literary adaptations of The Merchant of Venice, as well as a selection of poems, most of them from the twentieth century, on the character of Shylock. A Selected Bibliography is also included. About the Series: No other series of classic texts equals the caliber of the Norton Critical Editions. Each volume combines the most authoritative text available with the comprehensive pedagogical apparatus necessary to appreciate the work fully. Careful editing, first-rate translation, and thorough explanatory annotations allow each text to meet the highest literary standards while remaining accessible to students. Each edition is printed on acid-free paper and every text in the series remains in print. Norton Critical Editions are the choice for excellence in scholarship for students at more than 2,000 universities worldwide.

William Shakespeare, 1564 - 1616 Although there are many myths and mysteries surrounding William Shakespeare, a great deal is actually known about his life. He was born in Stratford-Upon-Avon, son of John Shakespeare, a prosperous merchant and local politician and Mary Arden, who had the wealth to send their oldest son to Stratford Grammar School. At 18, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, the 27-year-old daughter of a local farmer, and they had their first daughter six months later. He probably developed an interest in theatre by watching plays performed by traveling players in Stratford while still in his youth. Some time before 1592, he left his family to take up residence in London, where he began acting and writing plays and poetry. By 1594 Shakespeare had become a member and part owner of an acting company called The Lord Chamberlain's Men, where he soon became the company's principal playwright. His plays enjoyed great popularity and high critical acclaim in the newly built Globe Theatre. It was through his popularity that the troupe gained the attention of the new king, James I, who appointed them the King's Players in 1603. Before retiring to Stratford in 1613, after the Globe burned down, he wrote more than three dozen plays (that we are sure of) and more than 150 sonnets. He was celebrated by Ben Jonson, one of the leading playwrights of the day, as a writer who would be "not for an age, but for all time," a prediction that has proved to be true. Today, Shakespeare towers over all other English writers and has few rivals in any language. His genius and creativity continue to astound scholars, and his plays continue to delight audiences. Many have served as the basis for operas, ballets, musical compositions, and films. While Jonson and other writers labored over their plays, Shakespeare seems to have had the ability to turn out work of exceptionally high caliber at an amazing speed. At the height of his career, he wrote an average of two plays a year as well as dozens of poems, songs, and possibly even verses for tombstones and heraldic shields, all while he continued to act in the plays performed by the Lord Chamberlain's Men. This staggering output is even more impressive when one considers its variety. Except for the English history plays, he never wrote the same kind of play twice. He seems to have had a good deal of fun in trying his hand at every kind of play. Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets, all published on 1609, most of which were dedicated to his patron Henry Wriothsley, The Earl of Southhampton. He also wrote 13 comedies, 13 histories, 6 tragedies, and 4 tragecomedies. He died at Stratford-upon-Avon April 23, 1616, and was buried two days later on the grounds of Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. His cause of death was unknown, but it is surmised that he knew he was dying.

Leah S. Marcus is Edwin Mims Professor of English at Vanderbilt University.nbsp;She is the author of Childhood and Cultural Despair, The Politics of Mirth, Puzzling Shakespeare, and Unediting the Renaissance. She has edited two volumes of the writings of Queen Elizabeth I (with Janel Mueller and Mary Beth Rose), a Norton Critical Edition of The Merchant of Venice, and an Arden Early Modern Drama text of John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi.

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