The Image of Jews as Constructed by Lexical Items

Translations of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice as a Case in Point

in European Judaism

In the Western world, Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice is controversial due to its stereotypical description of Jews as evil and greedy. In China, the work was not widely known until its translations came out. This article deals with two Chinese renderings of Shakespeare’s classic, by Laura White (1914–1915) and Shiqiu Liang (2001/1936) respectively, which reconstruct the image of Shylock and Jews on the basis of the translators’ perceptions of the original figure, combining their identities and social backgrounds. In imagology, based on the ideas of Pageaux (1989/1994), the image of the ‘other’ can be analysed on three levels: lexical items, larger textual units, and plot. On the face of it, the image of the ‘other’ in translation can originate in either the source or target culture. However, the present article, which focuses on the lexical level, shows that there is a third possibility – a lexicon that blends two or more cultures.

European Judaism

A Journal for the New Europe

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