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Operation Shylock

Operation Shylock

Chapter:
(p.158) Chapter Fourteen Operation Shylock
Source:
Shylock Is Shakespeare
Author(s):
Kenneth Gross
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226309927.003.0014

This chapter focuses on Philip Roth's 1993 novel Operation Shylock: A Confession, which takes place mostly in and around Jerusalem at the time of the first Palestinian uprising, or intifada, in 1988. The story it tells seems to have little to do with Shakespeare's fable about a Venetian merchant and a Jewish moneylender. Shylock is indeed taken up explicitly only once, in a speech by a man who calls himself David Supposnik, an Israeli secret policeman disguised as an antiquarian book dealer. But despite the absence of more detailed references to Shakespeare's play, one senses throughout the novel Roth's wrestling match with Shylock. Through wild and oblique mirrors, Roth explores the nature of Shylock's voice, its disturbing inventiveness, its gleeful and self-wounding powers of rage; we hear at moments the very cadences of Shylock's speeches, his genius for repetition and accumulating grievance. The book touches on the power we feel in Shylock to engage his own status as an object of loathing, on how this disfigures and deludes him, and on how it is fed by larger systems of paranoia, lying, and forgery.

Keywords:   Shylock, Philip Roth, Jerusalem, Palestinian uprising

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