03 May 2016

A Note on The Serpent of Venice

Christopher Moore

     The Serpent of Venice if nothing else allows you to think that it would be really nice to have a sea monster eating your enemies at your suggestion whenever the occasion arises.  Fortunato, the fool, escapes fate by the grace of a horny sea monster from China brought to Venice by Marco Polo.  Fortunato unfortunately ran afoul of some wealthy merchants including Iago...yes, Shakespeare's Iago, but luckily is a friend of Othello and Desdemona which helps considerably.  Along with the help of his sea monster who either eats the people who want to kill him or otherwise annoy him or chomps off their heads leaving a decapitated bodies laying about, Forunato works in conjunction with Shylock and his daughter, Jessica, to seek revenge on those who have done them wrong or plan on doing them wrong.

     The Jews are relegated to La Giudecca, an island, separating the Jews from the city of Venice.  Unfortunately, Jessica wants to elope with a goy by the name of Lorenzo who of course wants to marry her for her money and then either kill her or leave her on some desolate coast to be eaten by beasts.  I do like Moore's women; they are matter-of-fact, no nonsense, and rather attractive characters. Shylock is a reasonably likable fellow as well, unfortunately as in Shakespeare, he over reaches a tad.

     As one would expect from a Christopher Moore novel, all is well that ends well which all does.  An enjoyable read-one that I would recommend to those who haven't the slightest hint of who Shakespeare might have been or why one should not consider Shylock a model for modern lending practices. With Genoa thrown into the mix and the impending battles between Genoa and Venice, a  little understanding of Italian history is a good thing.  As with most of Moore's novels, one can't read The Serpent of Venice and make any sense of it unless one has a reasonable education to rely on; for example, know where Venice and Genoa are located and what they were and that they might have some differences of opinion that needed ironing out through naval battles and such.