Howard Jacobson to rewrite Shakespeare

Award-winning author Howard Jacobson has been commissioned to rewrite The Merchant of Venice.

Publisher Penguin Random House asked Mr Jacobson to write an updated prose “retelling” of the play as part of a series marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death.

The author said he was delighted at the chance to examine the controversial character of Shylock, the Jewish moneylender, and to tackle the question of whether the play in antisemitic.

He said: “For an English novelist who also happens to be Jewish, The Merchant of Venice is where it all snarls up.

“Only a fool would think he has anything to add to Shakespeare. But Shakespeare probably never met a Jew, the Holocaust had not yet happened, and antisemitism didn’t have a name. Can one tell the same story today, when every reference carries a different charge? There’s the challenge. I quake before it.”

Mr Jacobson’s version of the play is due to published in 2016.

Last updated: 1:09pm, September 9 2013