Introduction

Shakespeare and the Jews

in European Judaism

The relationship between Shakespeare and the Jews is a multifaceted one with an extensive history dating back to the Elizabethan era. Attitudes to Jews in Shakespeare’s England comprise a complex topic with religious, racial and cultural components that has been explored in detail in James Shapiro’s seminal monograph Shakespeare and the Jews. Jewish elements in the work of Shakespeare and his contemporaries extend far beyond the infamous figure of Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, and the history of critical and interpretative approaches to such elements is extremely variegated, including shifting perceptions of Shylock on the page and stage over the centuries, different ways of addressing Jewish themes within the plays in writing and performance, and the representations of Jews and Judaism in translations of Shakespeare into other languages.

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European Judaism

A Journal for the New Europe