Shakespeare 400

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the death of English playwright and poet, William Shakespeare (1564–1616).

In honor of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s passing, I am re-posting a post I wrote for Book Riot on August 4, 2015, in which I discuss one of the many mysteries that surround Shakespeare as a person and as a writer.

William Shakespeare and the Jews

Al Pacino Shylock

Al Pacino as Shylock in The Merchant of Venice.

If you ask me, the William Shakespeare character that stands out the most is Shylock, the Jewish moneylender in The Merchant of Venice. The character of Shylock is controversial in many ways and has been debated frequently over the years. Is Shylock an anti-Semitic portrayal of a Jew? If so, does that mean that we have to stop reading and producing the play?

In my view, Shylock is a thoroughly problematic character. But my interest in Shylock is not so much whether or not the portrayal of him is anti-Semitic. To me that is a moot point. Hatred and prejudice against Jews was prevalent during Shakespeare’s lifetime, and Shakespeare himself was by no means unaffected by this. What interests me about Shylock is the fact that the character exists at all.

If you would like to read the rest of this post, please click here.

In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.

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10 Things You Should Know about the Crusader Bible

On March 23, 2016, I published the following post on Book Riot.

10 Things You Should Know about the Crusader Bible

Crusader-Bible_Facsimile-on-parchment-300x200

Imagine a book that tells the stories of the Old Testament in pictures and ends up being one of the most important sources in understanding how people spoke and wrote centuries ago.

Imagine a book that is commissioned by a Christian saint who participated in two Crusades and ends up as the prized possession of the enemy he sought to defeat.

Imagine a book that set out to tell the stories of the ancient civilizations of the Bible and instead tells a detailed story of its own contemporary society.

There is such a book. It is commonly known as the Crusader Bible.

If you would like to read the rest of the post, please click here.

In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.

5 Aliens We Wouldn’t Mind Being Abducted By

On January 25, 2016, I published the following post on the Quirk Books blog.

5 Aliens We Wouldn’t Mind Being Abducted By

xfiles

From 1993 to 2002, The X-Files brought conspiracy theories, Area 51, weirdos who need to eat women’s body fat to stay alive—and of course, alien abductions—right into our homes. Now, the aliens who abducted people on The X-Files were not particularly nice to their human captives, but we at Quirk believe that not all aliens are bad. Here are five aliens we wouldn’t mind being abducted by.

If you wish to read this post in its entirety, please click here.

In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.

Songs by Iron Maiden Inspired by Literature

On March 13, 2016, I published the following post on Book Riot.

Songs by Iron Maiden Inspired by Literature

Iron-Maiden

Forty years after the band first formed in East London, heavy metal band Iron Maiden is one of the biggest bands in the world. Iron Maiden is currently touring the world behind their latest album, Book of Souls. The album title points to one of the many reasons why I am a fan of the band—when looking for inspiration to their songs, they turn to literature. In fact, listening through the Iron Maiden catalogue is like listening to the Western literary canon set to music.

So while lead singer Bruce Dickinson flies the band across the globe on his jumbo jet pilot license, let’s take a closer look at some of Iron Maiden’s songs that are inspired by literature.

If you would like to read the entire post, please click here.

I have written about Iron Maiden and the band’s relationship to literature and history before here on The Boomerang. If you would like to learn more about the historical background to Iron Maiden’s song “The Trooper,” please click here.

In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.