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Esthétique Du Mal

Esthétique Du Mal

(p.143) Chapter Thirteen Esthétique Du Mal
Shylock Is Shakespeare
Kenneth Gross
University of Chicago Press

This chapter explores the following question: Does The Merchant of Venice point to an anti-Semitic or anti-Judaic impulse, a distorting prejudice against Jewish tradition, that stands inescapably at the heart of Christianity, especially the tradition of Christian thought that is shaped by the writings of Saint Paul? It argues that the dramatic shapes of the play, its structures of mirroring and projection, equally illuminate more modern accounts of anti-Semitic hatred, in particular, the idea that the insidious, secret, and rootless power and malice attributed to Jews are in fact rationalizing projections of qualities in the anti-Semite himself, a mirror of his fear of things idiosyncratic, unaligned, and difficult to assimilate. This hidden work of projection is one reason why the dangerous Jew of European anti-Semitism combines in himself aspects at once archaic and sophisticated, irrational and hyperrational.

Keywords:   The Merchant of Venice, European anti-Semitism, anti-Semite, prejudice, Jews, Christianity, projection

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