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The Merchant of Venice by William…

The Merchant of Venice (1596)

by William Shakespeare

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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many works of WS I have read and not seen, some seen and not read, some both, and then there is this play ... read, seen live, seen on film (Al Pacino & Jeremy Irons), heard on radio CD from Stratford Festival (Ontario, Canada) with Paul Soles
  frahealee | Dec 3, 2017 |
This play dangles precariously between a comedy and a tragedy. The story is pulled from various aspects of English culture, and the characters follow - and abolish - stereotypes that one would've laughed at in the 16th century. All in all, excellently written and wonderfully put together. ( )
  J9Plourde | Jun 13, 2017 |
Waffling between four and five stars for this. Four and a half, we'll say. The speeches, the characters, the ideas... so much that was beautiful and thought-provoking. I'm afraid that what I'm having a hard time loving is any of the characters. They are too... real. Their flaws are too visible and ugly, and their modest virtues fail to compensate. The character who inspires the most compassion, Shylock, is also the one who is most ruthlessly cruel, and Portia, the character who is presented as most clear-thinking, pure, and righteous, is also merciless, petty, and vindictive. The juxtaposition of comic and tragic elements, as when Shylock cries in anguish,

“Out upon her! Thou torturest me,Tubal. It
was my turquoise. I had it of Leah when I was a bachelor.
I would not have given it for a wilderness of monkeys.”

along with the mixture of cruelty and kindness in several characters, makes this, in a way, an exceptionally “realistic” comedy. It ends with weddings, but also with the fall of a larger-than-life character who is too sympathetic to be a proper villain.

I read the Oxford World's Classics edition of this, which has fine notes, generous margins, readable font, and excellent introductory material. Which I only skimmed because, as always, I started with Marjorie Garber's wonderful chapter on the play in Shakespeare After All. All her analyses are good, but this one seemed to me particularly so. I know I wouldn't have enjoyed the play nearly so much without her insights, anyway. Also, I highly recommend the Arkangel recorded performance of this – it's just fantastic! I'm not a fan of Shakespeare's clowns, as a general rule, but David Tennant's “Lancelot” is irresistible, and the other actors are also marvelous. ( )
1 vote meandmybooks | May 12, 2017 |
I first read this play back in 9th grade. At the time I remember being struck w/certain parts of it though I missed a lot of references, and many somewhat bawdy double entendres went over my head. Re-reading it as an adult was a great idea, as I was able to appreciate the story more. And I found too, after awhile, that understanding Shakespeare's English became easier as I continued reading.

One of my favorite passages was Portia's speech in Act IV Scene I, where she speaks to Shylock,

The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown.
His scepter shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings.
But mercy is above this sceptered sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings;
It is an attribute of God himself;
And earthly power doth then show like God's
When mercy seasons justice.

I had to memorize this for my 9th grade Lit class and was surprised to see how much of it I still remember after all these years.
I'm having my 9th grader read this play now for her Lit class. I hope I can help her to appreciate this more than I did at her age ☺ ( )
  homeschoolmimzi | Nov 28, 2016 |
High school. ( )
  SheReadsALot | Jun 20, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (605 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Shakespeare, Williamprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Andrews, John F.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brooks, Harold F.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
D'Agostino, NemiIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Furness, Horace HowardEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gollancz, IsraelEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Halio, Jay L.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harrison, G. B.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holland, PeterIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, Pei te HurinuiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lamar, VirginiaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lodovico, Cesare VicoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lombardo, Agostinosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lovett, Robert MorssEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mahood, M. M.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Merchant, W. MoelwynEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mowat, Barbara A.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Myrick, KennethEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rolfe, William J.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Serpieri, AlessandroTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, ReedEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Taylor, George CoffinEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Verity, A. W.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Werstine, PaulEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wright, Louis B.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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First words
In sooth, I know not why I am so sad:
It wearies me; you say it wearies you;
But how I caught it, found it, or came by it,
What stuff 'tis made of, whereof it is born,
I am to learn;
And such a want-wit sadness makes of me,
That I have much ado to know myself.
The quality of mercy is not strain'd;
It droppeth, as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blessed;
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes
When he is best, he is a little worse than a man; and when he is worst, he is little better than a beast.
My meaning in saying he is a good man, is to have you understand me that he is sufficient.
The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
It is a wise father that knows his own child.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This work is for the COMPLETE "The Merchant of Venice" ONLY. Do not combine this work with abridgements, adaptations or "simplifications" (such as "Shakespeare Made Easy"), Cliffs Notes or similar study guides, or anything else that does not contain the full text. Do not include any video recordings. Additionally, do not combine this with other plays.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743477561, Mass Market Paperback)

Folger Shakespeare Library

The world's leading center for Shakespeare studies

Each edition includes:

• Freshly edited text based on the best early printed version of the play

• Full explanatory notes conveniently placed on pages facing the text of the play

• Scene-by-scene plot summaries

• A key to famous lines and phrases

• An introduction to reading Shakespeare's language

• An essay by an outstanding scholar providing a modern perspective on the play

• Illustrations from the Folger Shakespeare Library's vast holdings of rare books

Essay by Alexander Leggatt

The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., is home to the world's largest collection of Shakespeare's printed works, and a magnet for Shakespeare scholars from around the globe. In addition to exhibitions open to the public throughout the year, the Folger offers a full calendar of performances and programs.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:23 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Presents Shakespeare's dark comedy about young lovers and a Jewish money lender who demands a pound of flesh in payment for a debt. Includes explanatory notes on facing pages, scene-by-scene plot summaries, a key to famous lines and phrases, a modern perspective essay, and an introduction to the play and the language of Shakespeare.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140714626, 0141013958

Yale University Press

An edition of this book was published by Yale University Press.

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