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The Early Modern Stage-Jew

Heritage, Inspiration, and Concepts – With the first edition of Nathaniel Wiburne’s «Machiavellus»


Saskia Zinsser-Krys

This book investigates the contemporary conceptions of the Jewish figure on the Elizabethan and Jacobean stage. Taking on what has been said about Shakespeare’s Shylock and Marlowe’s Barabas in the last centuries, the author analyses seven other, largely ignored plays to enhance the image we have today of the early modern stage-Jew. In tracing the image of Jewish figures in medieval literature and in early modern travel reports, the foundation of the Elizabethan idea of ‘Jewishness’ is laid out. Further, the author challenges some arguments which have become axiomatic over time, such as the notion of the red-haired, hook-nosed comical villain. The book also contains a first edition of the Latin university play «Machiavellus» by Nathaniel Wiburne, accomplished by Michael Becker and Saskia Zinsser-Krys.

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1. Illustrations

Figure 1: “Lopez Compounding to Poison the Queen,” woodcut in George Carleton’s A Thankful Remembrance of Gods Mercy (1627), as depicted in Shapiro (1996), n.p.

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