Well, this was underwhelming. Having not dug into Shakespeare in nearly ten years, it was a with great excitement that I tackled Othello
(using Marjorie Garber's Shakespeare After All for guidance). Othello
, like [b:The Wings of the Dove|124272|The Wings of the Dove (The Modern Library Classics)|Henry James|http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41UMcwWbR7L._SL75_.jpg|121908], topped many of the lists of books set in Venice, though I did not expect Shakespeare to show me around, as I had Henry James
may be one of the most snooze-inducing "psychological thrillers" (the cover of my copy adverts) that I have ever read. Iago, Othello's 'ancient', or ensign, hates his boss, we learn in the opening scene. This may be because he suspects Othello of shtupping his wife, or it may be merely because Iago, a native Venetian and member of the Venetian army, has two foreigners, Othello (the Moor) and Cassio (the Florentine), to report to, and this instigates some nationalistic ire. Othello has only just married Desdemona, and Iago is doing his darndest to make sure that the marriage isn't consummated, and to figure out some way of dispatching Othello, or otherwise getting him fired. He has two choices: Find someone to kill Othello or figure out a way to make Othello so jealous, he kills his new bride, daughter of a powerful senator. Iago, nothing if not thorough, chooses both tacts. Everyone dies, except for Cassio, and for this I was greatful. I had a little crush.
I was neither bowled over by the plot nor the language. As Garber mentions in her lecture, Othello is not one of the most performed of Shakespeare’s plays in the modern era, but it is one of the most quoted, and, well, I’d heard it all before. (He who steals my reputation makes me poorer and gains nothing for himself. . . .
yadda yadda. )
It is difficult to give Shakespeare a rating. I will close with this recommendation: if you have all of the time in the world, give this an afternoon. If you’re sitting on death row and find an urge for Shakespeare, try Henry V