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Monday, October 20, 2014

Christopher Moore's Serpent of Venice Shakespeare Mash-Up

I just read a very funny book, which I recommend.

Christopher Moore's The Serpent of Venice is a very funny, bawdy, tongue-planted-firmly-and-permanently-in-cheek mash-up of Shakespeare's Othello, The Merchant of Venice and Edgar Allan Poe's The Cask of Amontillado.

I have often wondered how the boys of Monty Python would lampoon and have fun with Shakespeare. Well, I don't have to wonder anymore. Christopher Moore lives and breathes the madcap Pythonesque air, and just about every page is filled with laugh out loud jokes.

Where else can you find Othello, Desdemona, and Iago in the same story as Shylock, Portia, Bassanio and Antonio?

Don't ask me to explain the plot of the book, but trust me when I say that the (anti-)hero of the story is the unlikeliest character you can imagine, a mischievous, puckish, irreverant fool by the name of Pocket of Dog-Snogging.

What is very ironic is that while Mr. Moore is simply and effortlessly having a laugh with Shakespeare, he actually captures some of the humourous (especially the bawdy humour) spirit of Shakespeare better than most scholars and theatre companies.

For example, I love the fact that he correctly understands that when Shylock wants to cut a pound of Antonio's flesh, Shylock is thinking of a particular part of his anatomy -- found between Antonio's thighs.

He also, which comes a pleasant surprise, understands correctly that Portia is not fair and wise, but actually a brat, and based on her attitude towards the black Prince of Morocco, a racist. 

In my version of Merchant, I discovered that Portia is also a glutton, since her name is from the Latin "porcius" or "porcus" which means "pig."

I recommend this book, especially to anyone out there who likes a good joke. 

If you are easily offended, if salty language upsets you, and you loathe coarse politically incorrect  humor -- then you should definitely read it twice!


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