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Othello (New Folger Library Shakespeare) Paperback – 16 Aug 2004

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Product details

  • Paperback: 314 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press Inc.,N.Y.; Reprint edition (16 Aug. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743482824
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743482820
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2 x 21.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,683,075 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

If anything, Othello has increased its stature as one of Shakespeare's greatest tragedies ever since it was first written, between 1603 and 1604, due to the victimisation suffered by its tragic hero, Othello, as a result of his skin colour. Othello is a "noble Moor", a North African Muslim who has converted to Christianity and is deemed one of the Venetian state's most reliable soldiers. However, his ensign Iago harbours an obscure hatred against his general, and when Othello secretly marries the beautiful daughter of the Venetian senator Brabanzio, Iago begins his subtle campaign of vilification, which will inevitably lead to the deaths of more than just Othello and Desdemona.

An extraordinary play, both for its dramatic economy and power as well as its remarkable language, from Othello's bombastic "traveller's history" to Desdemona's elegiac "willow song", the play raises uncomfortable questions about ongoing questions of not only racial identity but also sexuality, as Othello and Desdemona's sexual relationship becomes the voyeuristic site of Iago's attempt to destroy them. Particularly fascinated with the question of what it means to "see", Othello also contains one of the greatest tragic death scenes in all of Shakespeare, with Othello's final identification with "a malignant and a turbaned Turk". --Jerry Brotton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.



--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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4.1 out of 5 stars

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Budge Burgess on 13 April 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
'Othello' is one of Shakespeare's later plays and one of his great tragedies, penned sometime between 'Hamlet' and 'King Lear'. It's a play which emphatically presents cultural tensions - gender, race, religion, nation, role. It's a play which, perhaps more thoroughly than any of his other works, relies on the potency of opposition and contrast, the characters being polarised into black and white.

Othello is a Moorish general who has saved Venice and who is now based on the exotic Mediterranean island of Cyprus. Here is a man who, despite his 'alien' origins, is hailed as the saviour of his community, a man who is universally loved and admired, except by his lieutenant, Iago.

In Iago Shakespeare beats out with blacksmith rhythm one of his greatest creations, a man fired by jealousy, tempered by hatred, a man whose determination is hammered into shape and whose evil expresses itself in duplicitous twists and malignant turns enough to topple Othello. It is the nature of Shakespearean tragedy that the hero should plunge from the sublime heights to utter destitution, despair, and death.

The cornerstone of Othello's triumph is his great love for his lady, Desdemona. Winning her hand, securing her devotion is his greatest achievement and elevates him to unimagined happiness. Yet it this very foundation which Iago undermines with the seed of jealousy. As suspicion takes root, the whole edifice of Othello's power and completeness collapses about him. He murders his wife, faces the realisation of what he has done, and recognises that eternal damnation is less of a punishment that enduring life aware of his own guilt.

Shakespeare is a major architect of English. His phraseology permeates the language like the mortar binding together a building.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Dowden HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 19 Mar. 2010
Format: Paperback
Shakespeare based this play on a short Italian story, of course adapting and changing the story to meeet his own requirements. Written sometime between Hamlet and King Lear this shows an author who was most definitely at the peak of his powers.

One of Shakespeare's tragedies this is easily deceptive, as the plot is about love, jealously, race relations, revenge and betrayal, but when you read it you find that it isn't that simple. With his insight into how people think Othello has been criticised for being too egotistical or too much of a romantic, showing how Shakespeare can cause people to analyse his characters centuries after he wrote about them.

With its storyline this play is still relevant today. Arguably all his plays are but this one you can see immediately carries a strong resonance in the modern world. The expression Moor at the time this was written would indicate to people that Othello was black or at least swarthy in appearance. Othello being duped into believing that his wife Desdemona has been unfaithful by the machinations of another is nothing new in today's world, after all we have all witnessed or heard about similar things happening.

I know that some people find plays hard to read, but here is a piece of good advice that I heard with regards to reading Shakespeare - just relax and read the dialogue. It does work, before you know it you are into the story and feel the emotions of the different characters. As one RSC actress said when she played Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, 'You don't have to do anytihng because the words show you how to act.' Possibly the greatest compliment that can ever be given to a playwright.
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Format: Paperback
Hard work to read, yet one of the Bard's easiest plays as a stage work. My mark reflects the reading experience but it's fantastic if staged well. This is a real potboiler with beautiful poetry thrown in for free.

This is one of the Bard's more easily digested plays, since the themes and the plot are relatively straightforward - although there are plenty of academic theories and counter theories if you want complexity.

Iago is passed over for an army promotion by Othello and swears revenge - which he takes by planting the seeds of jealousy in Othello's mind about the fidelity of his new wife Desdemona, whom he suggests is having an affair with Cassio, Iago's successful military rival. A simple enough plot made interesting by three things. First the scale of Iago's success in his plans is such that Othello murders Desdemona and kills himself - revenge indeed, although some critics can't equate the quarrel with the outcome - I suggest that they have never sought revenge. Secondly Othello is black - a Moor - and yet holds a position of command in the Venetian army. There are reams of material written about the significance of Othello's colour both as regards Iago's revenge and Shakespeare's racism. Personally I found it an irrelevance and I suspect that as much as anything Shakespeare might have needed to find a role for a black actor. Finally and most interestingly is the manner in which Iago executes his revenge, which is a model of subtlety and how well he knows the weak spots and vanities of his target.

Othello is in many ways the perfect man, he is physically strong and courageous, and is an acclaimed war hero and respected general.
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