Shylock and Mussolini

There is a sense in which life outwits the best of comedies. Despite their obvious differences, Mussolini and Shakespeare’s Shylock may have something in common. They both made use of clever devices to further their plans, Mussolini by investing money and energy in propaganda and the cult of personality, Shylock in sourcing the best meat to feed his revenge. Yet, when Mussolini was recognised at Dongo near Lake Como by a communist partisan who had seen too much of Il Duce on propaganda posters,and thence led to his execution, one feels that not even the Bard, however cleverly he makes Shylock’s poison spill on its conjurer, can match the sense of humour that life bestows on human affairs. Admittedly one may die by their own sword, but fiction doesn’t stand a chance to what history can concoct.

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