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      Shakespeare in the Arab Jordanian Consciousness: Shylock in the Poetry of ʿArār (Mustafa Wahbi Al-Tal)

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            Abstract

            Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice has been reimagined, adapted, and appropriated by Arab playwrights and poets. The Arab Jordanian poet ʿArār (Mustafa Wahbi Al-Tal; 1897–1949) appropriates Shakespeare's anti-archetype of the figure of the Jew, Shylock, to criticize two local issues in the early twentieth-century context in Jordan and Palestine. First, the phenomenon of money-lending by Jordanian merchants, which led to the confiscation of the poor peasants' lands in the early twentieth century. Second, the condemnation of Zionism and its association with Western colonialism. Shakespeare's Shylock, on one hand, is recreated as a Jordanian Shylock, who is a usurer, and, on the other, as a Zionist Shylock. This remoulding of Shakespeare's Shylock as an Arab and Zionist reveals the post-Shakespeare Arab audience's new perception of The Merchant of Venice as a play about the political and behavioral affiliations of Shylock rather than about his Jewish ethnicity.

            Content

            Author and article information

            Journal
            10.2307/j50005550
            arabstudquar
            Arab Studies Quarterly
            Pluto Journals
            0271-3519
            2043-6920
            1 October 2018
            : 40
            : 4 ( doiID: 10.13169/arabstudquar.40.issue-4 )
            : 319-335
            Article
            arabstudquar.40.4.0319
            10.13169/arabstudquar.40.4.0319
            6941777b-5573-4e76-a1b5-b534ea9d48bf
            © 2018 The Center for Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies

            All content is freely available without charge to users or their institutions. Users are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the articles in this journal without asking prior permission of the publisher or the author. Articles published in the journal are distributed under a http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

            Custom metadata
            eng

            Social & Behavioral Sciences
            The Merchant of Venice ,comparative literature,Shylock,Shakespeare,ʿArār (Mustafa Wahbi Al-Tal),appropriation

            Notes

            1. See Graham Holderness, “‘An Arabian in My Room’: Shakespeare and the Canon,” Critical Survey 26:2 (2014), 82. See also Mahmoud Al-Shetawi, “Hamlet in Arabic,” Journal of Intercultural Studies 20:1 (1999), 44.

            2. We are borrowing the term “Arabize” from Ferial J. Ghazoul, “The Arabization of Othello,” Comparative Literature 50:1 (1998), 1–31. Also the term “localize” is taken from Martin Orkin, Local Shakespeares: Proximations and Power (London: Routledge, 2005).

            3. Margaret Litvin, Hamlet's Arab Journey: Shakespeare's Prince and Nasser's Ghost (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011), 2.

            4. Graham Holderness, “Arab Shakespeare: Sulayman Al-Bassam's The Al-Hamlet Summit,” Culture, Language and Representation IV (2007), 141.

            5. Mahmoud Al-Shetawi, “The Merchant of Venice in Arabic,” Journal of Intercultural Studies 15:1 (1994), 18-19. In this article, Al-Shetawi focuses on Ali Ahmad Bakathir's play The New Shylock (Shāilok al-Jadīd) (1946), which adapts Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice and presents Shylock as a Zionist.

            6. Mark Bayer, “The Merchant of Venice, the Arab-Israeli Conflict, and the Perils of Shakespearean Appropriation,” Comparative Drama 41:4 (2007), 473. Like Al-Shetawi, Bayer's article targets mainly the adaptation of Ali Ahmad Bakathir's play The New Shylock (Shāilok al-Jadīd) of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice.

            7. Ibid., 476.

            8. We are borrowing the term “world-wide Shakespeares” from Sonia Massai. See Sonia Massai, ed., World-Wide Shakespeares: Local Appropriations in Film and Performance (London: Routledge, 2005).

            9. Muhsin al-Musawi, The Postcolonial Arabic Novel: Debating Ambivalence (Leiden: Brill, 2003), 178.

            10. Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism (New York: Vintage Books, 1993), 216.

            11. Ibid., 217.

            12. Jean I. Marsden, ed., The Appropriation of Shakespeare: Post-Renaissance Reconstructions of the Works and the Myth (Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1991), 8.

            13. Ibid., 1.

            14. Christy Desmet, “Introduction,” in Christy Desmet and Robert Sawyer, eds., Shakespeare and Appropriation (London: Routledge, 1999), 4. For more theoretical discussion about the appropriation of Shakespeare, see also Christy Desmet and Sujata Lyengar, “Adaptation, Appropriation, or What You Will,” Shakespeare 11:1 (2015), 10-19.

            15. Terence Hawkes, Meaning by Shakespeare (London: Routledge, 1992), 3.

            16. Christy Desmet, “Introduction,” 3. See also Michael D. Bristol, Big-Time Shakespeare (New York: Routledge, 1996).

            17. Christy Desmet, “Introduction,” 2.

            18. Graham Holderness, “‘Dressing Old Words New’: Shakespeare, Science, and Appropriation,” Borrowers and Lenders: The Journal of Shakespeare and Appropriation 1:2 (2005). Web. Accessed November 4, 2017. <http://www.borrowers.uga.edu/781442/show>.

            19. Ania Loomba and Martin Orkin, “Introduction: Shakespeare and the Post-Colonial Question,” in Ania Loomba and Martin Orkin, eds., Post-Colonial Shakespeares (New York: Routledge, 1998), 2.

            20. See Craig Dionne and Parmita Kapadia, eds., Native Shakespeares: Indigenous Appropriations on a Global Stage (Hampshire: Ashgate, 2008). For example, Tayeb Salih, in his novel Season of Migration to the North, appropriates Shakespeare's Othello to resist the British colonization to Sudan. See Atef Laouyene, “‘I am No Othello. I am a Lie’: Shakespeare's Moor and the Post-Exotic in Tayeb Salih's Season of Migration to the North,” in Craig Dionne and Parmita Kapadia, eds., Native Shakespeares, 213-232; Hussein A. Alhawamdeh, “The Different Western Perception of the Oriental Moor in the Renaissance and the Twentieth Century: Shakespeare's Othello and Tayeb Salih's Season of Migration to the North: A Post-Colonial Critique,” Transnational Literature 5:2 (2013), 1-11. Web. Accessed November 4, 2017. <http://fhrc.flinders.edu.au/transnational/vol5_issue2.html>; Thomas Cartelli, Repositioning Shakespeare: National Formations, Postcolonial Appropriations (London: Routledge, 1999), 147-168; Barbara Harlow, “Sentimental Orientalism: Season of Migration to the North and Othello,” in Mona Takieddine Amyuni, ed., Tayeb Salih's Season of Migration to the North: A Casebook (Beirut: American University of Beirut Press, 1985), 75-79; Ferial J. Ghazoul, “The Arabization of Othello.”

            21. We are borrowing the term “collaborator” from Edward Said's description of Ariel in Shakespeare's The Tempest: “As a willing servant of Prospero; Ariel does what he is told obligingly, and, when he gains his freedom, he returns to his native elements, a sort of bourgeois native untroubled by his collaboration with Prospero,” see Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism, 214.

            22. See Ziyad al-Zuʿbi, “Introduction,” in Ziyad al-Zuʿbi, ed., ʿAshiyat Wadi al-Yabis: Diwān Mustafā Wahbi al-Tal (ʿArār), 2nd edition (Beirut: al-Muʾassasah al-ʿArabiyahlil-Dirasātwal-Nashir, 1998), 26-27.

            23. Ibid., 27.

            24. Richard Loring Taylor, “Introduction,” in Richard Loring Taylor, ed., Mustafa's Journey: Verse of Arar Poet of Jordan, trans. Richard Loring Taylor (Irbid: Yarmouk University Press, 1988), 5.

            25. Ibid., 6.

            26. Ibid., 13.

            27. Mustafa Wahbi al-Tal, “To the Usurers,” in Richard Loring Taylor, ed., Mustafa's Journey: Verse of Arar Poet of Jordan, 94. All quotations of ʿArār's poems are from this edition and will be indicated in the text.

            28. Al-Zuʿbi, ed., ʿAshiyat Wadi al-Yabis, 385.

            29. William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, in Stephen Greenblatt, Walter Cohen, Jean E. Howard, and Katharine Eisaman Maus, eds., The Norton Shakespeare, 2nd edition (New York: W.W. Norton, 2008), 3.3.32-3.3.34. All quotations are from this edition and will be indicated in the text.

            30. For a discussion of the concept of “mercy” in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, see Michael J. Willson, “View of Justice in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice and Measure for Measure,” Notre Dame Law Review 70:3 (1993), 695-726.

            31. Al-Zuʿbi, ed., ʿAshiyat Wadi al-Yabis, 355.

            32. Willson, “View of Justice,” 713.

            33. Ibid., 713-714.

            34. Mustafa B. Hamarneh, Social and Economic Transformation of Trans-Jordan 1921–1946 (PhD dissertation, Georgetown University, 1985), 88-89.

            35. Ibid., 183.

            36. Mohamed F. Tarawneh, Rural Capitalist Development in the Jordan Valley: The Case of DeirAlla—The Rise and Demise of Social Groups (Leiden: Sidestone Press, 2013), 29-30.

            37. Salih J. Altoma, “The Image of the Jew in Modern Arabic Literature 1900-1947,” Al-ʿArabiyya 11:1/2 (1978), 66.

            38. Trevor LeGassick, “The Image of the Jew in Modern Arabic Fiction,” Shofar 7:3 (1989), 44.

            39. Kenneth M. Pollack, Arabs at War: Military Effectiveness, 1948–1991 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2002), 267.

            40. Taylor, ed., Mustafa's Journey, 85.

            41. Abdullah Radwan, Arar: The Poet and Lover of Jordan, trans. Sadik I. Odeh (Amman: National Library, 1999), 76.

            42. Taylor, ed., Mustafa's Journey, 110.

            43. Nigel Ashton, King Hussein of Jordan: A Political Life (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008), 51-53.

            44. Nur Masalha, “The Historical Roots of the Palestinian Refugee Question,” in Naseer Aruri, ed., Palestinian Refugees: The Right of Return (London: Pluto Press, 2001), 46.

            45. Ibid., 46-47.

            46. Taylor, ed., Mustafa's Journey, 228.

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