The Great White Bard

The Great White Bard

In the introductory pages, the author suggests she is brown, South East Asian, and in some places discriminated against for those qualities. She’s also an acting director of education at Shakespeare’s Globe, a professor at a university in London, and so forth.

The text tackles race, race relations, ethnicity, and the universal appeal of Shakespeare’s canon, with an unvarnished, or to some, a distinct lack of whitewash.

I stumbled into the title when I was looking for something else, and it seems like recent release. Shakespeare, and the topics of race, both rather current. Before even starting, or just beginning, I was reminded of the classical professor I had, very “anglo,” and his few words on “The Moore of Venice,” as in a person of color.

“Conflating Shakespeare with the patron saint of England seems nothing less than strategic in the construction of the Great White Bard.” Page 35.

As my own family motto should read, “Never let the facts interfere…”

Alt Shakespeare Portions of the book are painful, and rather uncomfortable. This includes the history of race and racial slavery. There is the maritime history of the slave trade, the slave trade’s impact on historical economics, and brutal history. Fortunately, this is mostly through the lens of Shakespeare’s works, historicity, and scholarly interpretations.

Summing up, Shylock and antisemitic rhetoric in The Merchant of Venice shows my current belief:

“To stop performing, teaching or talking about it would be the same as hiding away from the past.” Page 138.

No matter how uncomfortable that history might be.

“By staging the clandestine love of two young people who attempt to erase the identities that would keep them apart, Shakespeare throws light upon the tragic consequences of identity-based extremism. In 2023, we know something about that.” Page 176.

Romeo and Juliet, if the reference is missing.

At once current and deeply academic, quite an interesting read. Took me two-three tries to get through it all because the book confronts, head-on, some of my own racist upbringing. Material that I fervently wish wasn’t true.

Painful, but then, it is a tough topic, and there are no easy answers. Never thought I would see Shakespeare scholarship discussing race, but then, The Great White Bard answers.

The Great White Bard

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