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  • Published: 30 April 2015
  • ISBN: 9780241187975
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook

The Merchant of Venice




The acclaimed Pelican Shakespeare series edited by A. R. Braunmuller and Stephen Orgel.

William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice is both a witty comedy and a moving exploration of bigotry and stigmatisation, and this Penguin Shakespeare edition is edited by W. Moelwyn Merchant with an introduction by Peter Holland.

'The quality of mercy is not strain'd,

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven'

Bassanio, a noble but impoverished Venetian, asks his friend the merchant Antonio for a loan to impress an heiress. Antonio agrees, but is forced to borrow the sum from a cynical Jewish moneylender, Shylock, who forces him into a chilling contract, which stipulates he must honour the debt with a pound of his own flesh. But Bassanio's beloved is not as demure as she seems, and disguising herself as a lawyer, Portia proves herself one of Shakespeare's most cunning heroines, in a witty attack on Shylock's claim. A complex and controversial comedy, The Merchant of Venice explores prejudice and the true nature of justice.

This book contains a general introduction to Shakespeare's life and Elizabethan theatre, a separate introduction to The Merchant of Venice, a chronology, suggestions for further reading, an essay discussing performance options on both stage and screen, and a commentary.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was born to John Shakespeare and Mary Arden some time in late April 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon. He wrote about 38 plays (the precise number is uncertain), many of which are regarded as the most exceptional works of drama ever produced, including Romeo and Juliet (1595), Henry V (1599), Hamlet (1601), Othello (1604), King Lear (1606) and Macbeth (1606), as well as a collection of 154 sonnets, which number among the most profound and influential love-poetry in English.

If you enjoyed The Merchant of Venice, you might like The Taming of the Shrew, also available in Penguin Shakespeare.

'The man who of all modern, and perhaps ancient poets, had the largest and most comprehensive soul'

John Dryden
%%%William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice is both a witty comedy and a moving exploration of bigotry and stigmatisation, and this Penguin Shakespeare edition is edited by W. Moelwyn Merchant with an introduction by Peter Holland.
'The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven'
Bassanio, a noble but impoverished Venetian, asks his friend the merchant Antonio for a loan to impress an heiress. Antonio agrees, but is forced to borrow the sum from a cynical Jewish moneylender, Shylock, who forces him into a chilling contract, which stipulates he must honour the debt with a pound of his own flesh. But Bassanio's beloved is not as demure as she seems, and disguising herself as a lawyer, Portia proves herself one of Shakespeare's most cunning heroines, in a witty attack on Shylock's claim. A complex and controversial comedy, The Merchant of Venice explores prejudice and the true nature of justice.
This book contains a general introduction to Shakespeare's life and Elizabethan theatre, a separate introduction to The Merchant of Venice, a chronology, suggestions for further reading, an essay discussing performance options on both stage and screen, and a commentary.
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was born to John Shakespeare and Mary Arden some time in late April 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon. He wrote about 38 plays (the precise number is uncertain), many of which are regarded as the most exceptional works of drama ever produced, including Romeo and Juliet (1595), Henry V (1599), Hamlet (1601), Othello (1604), King Lear (1606) and Macbeth (1606), as well as a collection of 154 sonnets, which number among the most profound and influential love-poetry in English.
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  • Published: 30 April 2015
  • ISBN: 9780241187975
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook

About the author

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, and was baptised on 26 April 1564. His father was a glove maker and wool merchant and his mother, Mary Arden, was the daughter of a well-to-do local land owner. Shakespeare was probably educated in Stratford’s grammar school. In 1582 he married Anne Hathaway, and the couple had a daughter the following year and twins in 1585.

Shakespeare’s theatrical life seems to have commenced around 1590. We do know that he was part of the Lord Chamberlain’s Company, which was renamed the King’s Company in 1603 when James I succeeded to the throne. The Company acquired interests in two theatres in the Southwark area of London, near the banks of the Thames - the Globe and the Blackfriars.

Shakespeare’s poetry was published before his plays, with two poems appearing in 1593 and 1594, dedicated to his patron Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton. Most of Shakespeare’s sonnets were probably written at this time as well.

Records of Shakespeare’s plays begin to appear in 1594, and he produced roughly two a year until around 1611. His earliest plays include Henry VI and Titus Andronicus. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice and Richard II all date from the mid to late 1590s. Some of his most famous tragedies were written in the early 1600s; these include Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth and Antony & Cleopatra. His late plays, often known as the Romances, date from 1608 onwards and include The Tempest.

Shakespeare died on 23 April 1616 and was buried in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. The first collected edition of his works was published in 1623 and is known as ‘the First Folio’.

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