Rewriting Shakespeare has become a global genre. Arnold Wesker was one of the trailblazers of the genre with his The Merchant (1976). This article argues that Arnold Wesker’s The Merchant, with both its subversion and extension of Shakespeare’s play, in theme, plot and characterization, engages with Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice by means of a counter-discourse. Wesker rewrote Shylock by focusing on two episodes in Shakespeare’s play: Jessica’s conversion to Christianity and Shylock’s self-defence. Wesker’s rewriting disrupts the binary as well as Christian conceptions to bestow upon the Jew the ‘protean quality’ of representing just about any sort of ‘Other’ but themselves. Wesker’s Shylock has a rounded humanity and is a cultured, humorous and book-loving Renaissance man. Wesker puts Shakespeare’s work under scrutiny as a culturally constructed world where life can be repositioned, and margins moved to the centre to be in a new light.
Demythologizing Girlhood in Kate Bernheimer’s Trilogy
In this article I position the metaphor of the hope chest at the heart of a trilogy of fairy tale novels, The Complete Tales of Ketzia (2001), The Complete Tales of Merry (2006a) and The Complete Tales of Lucy Gold (2011), by Kate Bernheimer that explore traditions of American girlhood. Deploying psychoanalytic interpretative readings, I investigate the characterization of each of the three sisters. My use of the hope chest (as both a toy and a cultural repository) enables me to offer a fuller picture of the social transition depicted in these novels from childhood into womanhood, and is thus conflated with the idea of the child-woman— a hinge-like cultural figure whom Bernheimer represents metaphorically through boxes of accoutrements containing memories and prophecies. With reference to unpublished interviews with Bernheimer, I support my interpretative reading of her trilogy by invoking and explaining the relevance of literary theories related to caskets.
Re-writing the Relationship
Like the Chorus in Marlowe’s prologue to Doctor Faustus, let me begin by stating what this essay is not. This paper is not a detailed examination of the biographical character of either Marlowe or Shakespeare. Nor is it yet another attempt to show that Marlowe coauthored or, more conspiratorially, actually wrote some of Shakespeare’s plays. Nor will it focus on the working and playing conditions of the early modern theatrical scene.What it will explore is the relationship between Shakespeare and Marlowe as it has been portrayed in biographical and fictional forms.
Julia Pascal’s The Yiddish Queen Lear
Julia Pascal’s The Yiddish Queen Lear, a dramatic adaptation of Shakespeare’s King Lear, merges racial identity politics with gender politics as the play both traces the history of the Yiddish theatre and offers a feminist criticism of Shakespeare’s text. The use of Lear as a source text for a play about Jews illustrates that contemporary Jewish engagements with Shakespeare are more varied than reinterpretations of The Merchant of Venice. Identity politics are employed in Pascal’s manifestation of the problematic relationship between Lear and his daughters in the form of a conflict between the play’s protagonist Esther, who struggles to preserve the tradition of the Yiddish theatre, and her daughters who prefer the American cabaret. Gender politics are also portrayed with Pascal’s use of a strong woman protagonist, which contributes to the feminist criticism of Lear as well as subverting the stereotypical representation of the domestic Jewish female figure in other dramatic texts.
Rewriting Lesbian Stereotypes in Summer Will Show
Intertextuality is basic to Sylvia Townsend Warner’s narratives: she is a formidably learned, effortlessly allusive writer. From her slyly absurd references to Wordsworth in the lush tropical setting of Mr. Fortune’s Maggot (1927) through her retelling of Apuleius’s Cupid and Psyche to produce an allegory of class oppression in her first historical novel, The True Heart (1929), to the densely woven intertextuality of Summer Will Show (1936), she uses allusion both to ground her apparently implausible narratives within literary history and to question and parody the politics, ‘history’, and narratology of her predecessors. It is appropriate that in this novel, where the lesbian romance in Paris is precisely coterminous with the 1848 revolution, many of the allusions are to nineteenth-century French literary history. Warner’s ‘unwriting’ of Flaubert’s L’Éducation Sentimentale has received a great deal of attention since it was first noted by Terry Castle in her 1990 theorisation of the lesbian triangular plot. Later writers, in contrast, have emphasised the allusion’s Marxist significance. Quite another fictional genealogy seems more to the point, however, when we consider Warner’s characterisation of Minna Lemuel, the revolutionary Jewish story-teller: the representation, usually by women writers, of the powerful, sexually active, sometimes evil and sometimes doomed femme artiste, as in Madame de Stael’s Corinne, Charlotte Brontë’s Villette, George Sand’s Consuelo, and Colette’s La Seconde. It is now abundantly clear that the intertextuality of Summer Will Show demonstrates that the novel is narratologically, politically, and sexually revolutionary.
Sensation and the Tragedy of the Exceptional Woman in Rhoda Broughton's Good-bye, Sweetheart!
Reading Rhoda Broughton's fourth novel Good-bye, Sweetheart! (1872) as a revision of Germaine de Staël's Corinne (1807), this essay examines Broughton's depiction of the exceptional woman who tragically defies the gender norms of her day. Like Staël's famous improvisatrice, Broughton's rebellious heroine Lenore Herrick dies heartbroken after her fiancé discards her to marry a more docile girl. Significantly, however, Broughton's Victorian protagonist is even more disempowered than her Romantic predecessor; lacking an artistic career like Corinne, Lenore is, finally, a rebel without a cause.
Te Papa Tongarewa the Museum of New Zealand
The national Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa was comprehensively restructured in the 1990s in accordance with new government policies of ‘biculturalism,’ designed to reformulate relations between indigenous Maori and descendants of colonial settlers. This article, which traces the development of the new Museum, is a case study, not only of contemporary cultural politics in a settler society, but also of the impact of discursive theory on museums. Te Papa has embraced critical literature and has incorporated into its exhibitions notions derived from literary theory, such as subversion, deconstruction, and ‘play.’ ‘Biculturalism’ may be seen as another rhetorical device, one that effects a conceptual separation between Maori and non-Maori that is given form in the Museum’s physical structure and operations. This article considers how cultural policy shapes museum practice, and questions whether biculturalism is an effective strategy in terms of its stated aim of supporting Maori self-determination and a (cultural and political) ‘partnership’ with Pakeha, New Zealanders of European descent.
An Interview with Nabyl Lahlou
Khalid Amine and Nabyl Lahlou
On Arab stages, Shakespeare’s tragedies have a particular and exciting history, the roots of which go back to the nineteenth century. The various manifestations of Shakespeare in Arabic have oscillated between reproducing his work in the early translations of the late nineteenth century on the one hand and, on the other, adapting and rewriting the texts in order to set them in Arabic contexts.
Though it may seem perverse – Shakespeare being synonymous with creativity itself – to speak of ‘creating’ that which is already so manifestly and abundantly created, Shakespeare criticism and scholarship is tending increasingly towards the view that every act of scholarly reproduction, critical interpretation, theatrical performance, stage and screen adaptation, or fictional appropriation produces a new and hitherto unconceived Shakespeare. This volume presents discursive evidence to support this hypothesis in relation to the fields of transcultural reproduction, screen adaptation, theatrical improvisation and fictional re-writing.
Educational Films, National Identity, and Citizenship in Italy from 1948 to 1968
This article examines a series of educational films and documentaries produced between 1948 and 1968 that document the activities of the Italian state. These films, which record the dedicated and arduous work of the Italian government and administration, had two functions. First, they informed students and the general public about the democratic structures, institutions and aims of the new republic, promoting a fresh and convincing vision of national identity. Second, they served to obscure and rewrite the collective national memory of Fascism and Italian involvement in the Second World War. These films thus reveal the fine line between public information, political propaganda, and civic education.