'The Merchant of Venice in Graz'

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'The Merchant of Venice' was apparently Hitler's favourite Shakespearian play. The malice directed by the wealthy Venetians against Shylock, the Jewish money lender, can shock the modern reader. Shylock responds by asking 'if you prick us do we not bleed? if you tickle us do we not laugh? if you poison us do we not die? and if you wrong us shall we not revenge?'

This picture is set at the dramatic climax of the trial scene. In my version Shylock turns away, forgoing payment of Antonio's blood bond, only to receive the full vengeance of the court's judgment against him.

The main difference between my preparatory drawing and its realisation is the background. In reality I chose the railway station which I had first seen from the air as we came in to land. It is presently under reconstruction to provide a new two tiered shopping mall, the value of which the developers attempt to pursued us of by means of a strangely lifeless computer image draped across the facade. The terminus and surrounding area were bombed during the war, but not before Shylock's kin had been deported and local functionaries had declared the town 'Judenrein'.

On the plane home I read in a British newspaper that the home secretary, David Blunkett, had branded Asian youths in Bradford 'maniacs' for participating in the town's recent riots, and those who questioned the harsh four to six year sentences 'bleeding heart liberals'. This pronouncement came from the minister responsible for immigration, asylum and the criminal justice system before judicial appeals had been heard.