Book review“Scorned my nation”: A comparison of translations of The merchant of Venice into German, Hebrew, and Yiddish New York-Washington DC/Baltimore-Bern-Frankfurt am Main- Berlin-Brussels-Vienna-Oxford: Peter Lang, 2003. 247 pp. ISBN 0-8204-5798-1 € 69,40. (Comparative Cultures and Literatures, 16). .
Reviewed by Rachel Weissbrod
Table of contents
Supposedly written between 1596 and 1598, The merchant of Venice was created as a romantic comedy ending in love and harmony. Over the centuries the comedy underwent a drastic transformation. It became a highly charged political drama, at times—a tragedy, focusing on the character of the Jew, Shylock. This process, which took place mainly outside England, is the subject matter of Abend-David’s impressive book. The author sets out to supply “the missing link”—the chain of metamorphoses leading from “The Jew/that Shakespeare drew” (in the alleged words of Alexander Pope) to the Jew as portrayed in later translations and adaptations of the play. Focusing on the German, Yiddish and Hebrew versions, his work encompasses theatrical performances, prose and poetry paraphrases, cinematic adaptations and more. In fact, Abend-David refers to the entire discourse surrounding the play—including comments, [ p. 194 ]criticism, allusions and the frequent use of Shylock as a metaphor for the Jewish people or character.