Sep 08, 2020dixithanoop rated this title 3 out of 5 stars
This is the first Shakespearean work that I read, and the main reason I chose this one was because of its business oriented story, unlike his other classic tragedies. The story itself, adjusted to "temporal" inflation, is just brilliant! I'm not going to mention any of the extreme anti-semitic sentiments in the book which is downright deplorable even in that time and place, because I largely focussed on the aspects of business and law. I also want to twist and adapt the three casket story, which is largely based on Christian teachings and beliefs of that era, into a more modern, pragmatic "solve the riddle" kind of story! I guess the casket story's modern equivalent is that feature on many dating apps that ask random questions and then match based on answers :)
With the above things clarified and put out of the way, the rest of the story easily flows as an extraordinary artistic creation blended with a masterful narration which, like a long gushing river, has enough whirlpools to keep the journey exciting and a seamless flow to get carried along effortlessly.
Just like any other Shakespearean work, the book has enough quotes to underline, the most famous of which has to be 'All that glitters is not gold', referring to a literal golden casket. It's interesting how this has been adapted to mean a non-golden thing in recent times, as the original one was way more metaphorical, in that it actually meant gold could glitter but don't be fooled by that glitter! There are also many neologisms in the work, most famous being "green-eyed" to mean jealousy (although I'm not sure the link to the color, green is generally a positive color). Along with that, one of the most famous female names ever, Jessica, also first appeared in this play, mostly from Anglicisation of the biblical Iscah.
Coming to my favorite part of the play - business and law! I guess the only thing missing in this is Credit Default Swaps! The gist is - Bassanio needs money, he asks Antonio. Antonio is a wealthy merchant but his wealth is not liquid. He has tons in ships etc, but none liquid. Think of modern day Fixed Deposits and bonds! But owing to his non-liquid assets, he can give surety for Bassanio with other lenders. So he does, but the surety the lender Shylock asks, is a "pound of Antonio's flesh". Pound as in the weight pound, not the currency! Sigh, if only it was the currency. Bassanio fails to repay, and it all comes down to a legal battle about the validity and morality of "a pound of flesh". The court drama scenes can easily give the makes of Good Wife a run for their money! Eventually, since this is not a tragedy, it all ends well for the "good guy" Antonio. I was surprised there's even an element ofOptions Trading here given the surety's value might fluctuate, but Shylock has already called upon it!
Overall. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the "good" parts of the book, mindfully skipping over all those lines that screams of hatred!