Shakespeare and Venice is the first book length study to describe and chronicle the mythology of Venice that was formulated in the Middle Ages and has persisted in fiction and film to the present day. Graham Holderness focuses specifically on how that mythology was employed by Shakespeare to explore themes of conversion, change, and metamorphosis. Identifying and outlining the materials having to do with Venice which might have been available to Shakespeare, Holderness provides a full historical account of past and present Venetian myths and of the city's relationship with both Judaism and Islam. Holderness also provides detailed readings of both The Merchant of Venice and of Othello against these mythical and historical dimensions, and concludes with discussion of Venice's relevance to both the modern world and to the past.
Graham Holderness is Professor of English at the University of Hertfordshire, and author or editor of numerous studies in early modern and modern literature, drama and theology.
'... an excellent and timely contribution to the study of Othello and The Merchant of Venice, and to a particular area of Shakespeare Studies that has, until recently, received far less attention than it deserves. Holderness’s contribution to this debate is perceptive, wide-ranging and provocative.' John Drakakis, University of Stirling, UK, editor Arden 3 The Merchant of Venice 'Shakespeare and Venice offers first a sensitive study of many of the issues surrounding the city’s identity represented in the plays. Furthermore, the analysis of delineations of the central subject - Shakespearean Venice - in more recent texts contributes to the wider project of Holderness’s study by highlighting the dangers of premeditated readings of Venice in Shakespeare’s plays, thus emphasizing the complexities of early modern Venice both in reality and as portrayed in Elizabethan drama.' Notes and Queries 'Through Holderness’s compelling study, readers can develop a new idea of Venice as a metaphorical locus of the forces and conflicts of an uncertain and unstable era, profoundly affected by the transition from feudal to mercantile economy, the bugbear of social mobility and the fear of ethnic/cultural contamination. Shakespeare and Venice opens up a new window on the semiotic richness of Venice, a city that has been at the crossroads of different cultures, wavering between tradition and change, old alliances and new possibilities.' Fogli di anglistica '... few will fail to benefit from an account that eschews modish emphases and scrupulously documents its arguments.' Theatre Research International 'This is a provocative book in which Holderness never hesitates to express his opinions, frequently taking issue with what others have written about Shakespeare and Venice. But he has earned the right to those opinions, for this book is thoroughly grounded in sixteenth-century sources and full of interesting historical tidbits. It’s worth a read by anybody interested in The