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date: 19 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

In their modern Hebrew stage versions, which developed in the twentieth century while Jewish nationhood was striving to materialize territorially and culturally, productions of Shakespeare’s tragedies were often measured by their relevance to the current political circumstances. Thus in Romeo and Juliet, whose core of romantic betrothal may still reflect the concerns and demands of the wider community, the lovers' failure to establish a new mode of familial allegiance, may correspond to the potential tragedy of the impossible Zionist attempt to realize autonomous nationhood without paying the price of establishing a colonialist enterprise—one that deprives a rival ethnic group from achieving its own self-determination. By the same token Fortinbras may ignite the debate between the victim’s vulnerability and the aggressor’s violence. This chapter traces the alternation in modern Hebrew Shakespeare between political and purely aesthetic treatment of the tragedies.

Keywords: political reading (of Shakespeare), Jewish, tragic, The Merchant of Venice, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, nationhood, Macbeth, Holocaust

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