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Since his first public appearance in the late 1590s, Shylock has been synonymous with antisemitism. Many of his bon mots remain common currency among Jew-haters; among them "3000 ducats" and the immortal "pound of flesh". But Shakespeare, being Shakespeare, was incapable of inventing anyone so uninteresting; instead he affords Shylock such ambiguity that some of his other lines have become keynotes for believers in shared humanity and tolerance. Following Shakespeare's example these stories – all inspired by The Merchant of Venice – range from the comic to the melancholic. Many pivot on significant productions of the play: Stockholm in 1944, London in 2012, and Venice in 2016. Some are concerned with domestic matters, others with the political, including one – more outrageous than the others – that links Shylock via Israel with the American presidency; most combine both. Running through these linked stories – of which there are seven, like the ages of man – is the cycle of family life, with all its comedy and tragedy.
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About the Author
The recipient of various prizes including the Somerset Maugham Award, The Jewish Quarterly Prize and the Macmillan Silver Pen Award for Fiction, Clive Sinclair was selected as one of the original Best of Young British Novelists in 1983. He was a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and held a doctorate from the University of East Anglia. He taught there, at the University of Uppsala, and the University of California at Santa Cruz, where his son Seth was born. Clive lived in London with the artist Haidee Becker until his death on 5 March 2018.