|Dustin Hoffman as Shylock|
One of the worst aspects of this cultural necrophilia is the trend for rewriting the great literature of the past. Yesterday, it was reported that poor old William Shakespeare has been brought into the frame – apparently the British author Howard Jacobson plans to rewrite The Merchant of Venice in order to ‘tackle its anti-Semitism’. I have the greatest of respect for Jacobson, so these reports sadden me.
No doubt Jacobson has the best of intentions, but the fact is that rewriting a Shakespeare play – especially one as controversial as The Merchant of Venice – is a form of rewriting history. Such an endeavour threatens to violate the integrity of art, and it encourages the politicisation of aesthetic judgment.
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