Othello (Penguin Shakespeare)

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9780141012315: Othello (Penguin Shakespeare)

Inexorably poisoned against the woman he loves by his trusted friend Iago, Shakespeare's Othello is a timeless tragic figure. This Penguin Shakespeare edition is edited by Kenneth Muir with an introduction by Tom McAlindon.



'O! beware, my lord, of jealousy;


It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock


The meat it feeds on.'



A popular soldier and newly married man, Othello seems to be in an enviable position. And yet, when his supposed friend Iago sows doubts in his mind about his wife Desdemona's fidelity, and his friend Cassio's true intentions, he is gradually consumed by suspicion. In this powerful tragedy, innocence is corrupted and trust is eroded as every relationship is drawn into a tangled web of jealousies.



This book contains a general introduction to Shakespeare's life and Elizabethan theatre, a separate introduction to Othello, a chronology, suggestions for further reading, an essay discussing performance options on both stage and screen, and a commentary.



William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was born to John Shakespeare and Mary Arden some time in late April 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon. He wrote about 38 plays (the precise number is uncertain), many of which are regarded as the most exceptional works of drama ever produced, including Romeo and Juliet (1595), Henry V (1599), Hamlet (1601), Othello (1604), King Lear (1606) and Macbeth (1606), as well as a collection of 154 sonnets, which number among the most profound and influential love-poetry in English.



If you enjoyed Othello, you might like Richard III, also available in Penguin Shakespeare.



'Uncannily brilliant ... truly fascinating because it makes evil specific and precise and human'


Sam Mendes, director of American Beauty

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Othello

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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

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