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Othello (Pelican Shakespeare) Paperback – July 3, 2001

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Product Details

  • Series: Shakespeare, Pelican
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (May 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140714634
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140714630
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,666 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in April 1564, and his birth is traditionally celebrated on April 23. The facts of his life, known from surviving documents, are sparse. He was one of eight children born to John Shakespeare, a merchant of some standing in his community. William probably went to the King's New School in Stratford, but he had no university education. In November 1582, at the age of eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway, eight years his senior, who was pregnant with their first child, Susanna. She was born on May 26, 1583. Twins, a boy, Hamnet ( who would die at age eleven), and a girl, Judith, were born in 1585. By 1592 Shakespeare had gone to London working as an actor and already known as a playwright. A rival dramatist, Robert Greene, referred to him as "an upstart crow, beautified with our feathers." Shakespeare became a principal shareholder and playwright of the successful acting troupe, the Lord Chamberlain's Men (later under James I, called the King's Men). In 1599 the Lord Chamberlain's Men built and occupied the Globe Theater in Southwark near the Thames River. Here many of Shakespeare's plays were performed by the most famous actors of his time, including Richard Burbage, Will Kempe, and Robert Armin. In addition to his 37 plays, Shakespeare had a hand in others, including Sir Thomas More and The Two Noble Kinsmen, and he wrote poems, including Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece. His 154 sonnets were published, probably without his authorization, in 1609. In 1611 or 1612 he gave up his lodgings in London and devoted more and more time to retirement in Stratford, though he continued writing such plays as The Tempest and Henry VII until about 1613. He died on April 23 1616, and was buried in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford. No collected edition of his plays was published during his life-time, but in 1623 two members of his acting company, John Heminges and Henry Condell, put together the great collection now called the First Folio.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Tom H on February 27, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Unfortunately, with most of the professional Shakespeare editions (Folgers, Penguin, etc), the digital "sample" you download only gives you the introduction, which tells you nothing of the formatting of the play itself. Since that formatting is essential to your reading experience, this is quite frustrating -- I thought it would be worth giving a brief review to warn other users off.

Given that all of Shakespeare's works are in the public domain, I'd like to think someone would have put together nice kindle editions of them. Given the strong reviews, I thought this might be it (also, I have my students reading the print version of this edition, so it seemed like a logical choice). Alas, my search for a decent kindle experience continues.

On the positive side, the lines of this play work well on a KindleDX, so the basic reading experience is comfortable.

On the minus side, they've done extraordinarily little work to convert this book into a Kindle book.

To start with, they didn't even take the time to format acts and scenes as chapters, so there's no way to quickly navigate the text except to search for "I.iii" or what have you (or a famous line in a scene that you happen to remember!). The table of contents consists simply of "Title Page", "Copyright Page", "Introduction" and the play. The "notes" (on the bottom of each page in the print edition) are included as raw text in the kindle edition. There's no way to make the kindle page line up with the print page (even though with the DX this might be physically possible), so the notes just appear as a blob now and again, which makes them awkward to use if not useless. Furthermore, the notes refer to "line numbers" which are not included in the text.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Vincent Poirier on June 7, 2012
Format: Paperback
Sometimes a tragedy doesn't look like one because no one dies, for instance we can think of The Merchant of Venice as a tragedy with Shylock as the tragic hero. Sometimes what looks like a tragedy isn't one because even though the hero dies, he was the pawn of forces greater than he was; Antony And Cleopatra fits that way of thinking. But sometimes a tragedy is one even though the tragic flaw seems to come from outside. Othello is such a play.

Othello is a powerful man in Venice, despite being a black man in a white world. He's not even a Christian yet he marries the beautiful Desdemona. They love each other deeply. Othello's good fortunes bother Iago, the villain of the play. He frames Desdemona and convinces Othello she is guilty of adultery. In a fit of jealous righteousness, Othello kills Desdemona.

Othello's flaw isn't so much that he is jealous and possessive. He really did love his wife and it's only when apparently incontrovertible evidence is laid before his eyes that he falls prey to jealousy. His flaw is in his willingness to believe. His pride won over his love. If he had let go of his pride, he would have believed both Desdemona and Iago; he would have lived with the contradiction between what he saw and what he knew. But Iago's plan succeeds. Pride is very close to hubris and though Iago arranges the situation, he only tempts Othello.

In the end the wealthy, resolute, generous Othello, who is not the victim of forces beyond his control. After all Iago's abilities pale when compared to Othello's. Othello falls through pride, through his inability accept a loss of face.

Vincent Poirier, Tokyo
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan L on April 25, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's still Othello. There's nothing to say about it. It is in its most glorious unaltered form. The story as a whole is not bad. I have read it multiple times, but it never seems to get old. It is one of the most fun to read Shakespeares in my opinion. With that being said, it is also among the easier of his works. There are a lot of similes and metaphors that are used throughout the book to represent such grand topics such as race, status, and leadership.

This is definitely not my favorite edition. I have used the Folger edition before and I much prefer that one to this one. It has much more interesting/informative notes and has better definitions/pictures that can be extremely helpful to understanding the text itself.
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By Paying Guest on October 13, 2014
Format: Paperback
In the US, Othello is always played by an African-American, very often very successfully--so successfully that I used to counter with the question, What is a Moor?
Because of the success of portrayal by Black actors, I came to pursue my pedantic critique, and suggest that Othello is, as the subtitle asserts, a Moor--a Muslim, and an admirable Muslim, of mixed Berber background perhaps, perhaps not. He advances sheerly on his own merits. (Ah ha! Sounds possibly "American," or at least un-Jacobean!)
Meanwhile, Iago is a friendly, confidential type--like John-Boy Walton (actor Richard Thomas). Directors err to make Iago evil-seeming so we don't credit his wise words. Most of Sh's villains speak very well (say, R3, or Goneril and Regan, Edmund). In Iago's case, Othello, who is no fool, sees him as "honest Iago." Many criminals seem trustworthy, including serial rapists and murderers. They draw victims into their confidences. Iago does. If Iago appears evil, Othello appears a fool. He is not..
Ohello is a military man. (The curse of our American posture after WWII.) Although early in the play he disdains to draw his weapon against an amateur militia, later on his naivete leads him to retreat to his weapon as symbol of the strength he may no longer possess--shades of the NRA.
He and Desdemona are pursued by the Venetian Renaissance NRA, Brabantio's "consorteria": When B says, "Call up my Kinsmen," he's summoning his militia--common throughout Italy in the tower societies. He is tried at a crisis point in the Republic, when they need his services more than ever, but Desdemona's testimony frees him.
These are just surmises. That's why I call Malvolio the Bard's only American, though possibly also...the Muslim-American married to the White lady?
The only article I have published on Othello was in my youth, on tone of voice in Othello, especially the variety of "O's." This was in California English, in the 70s.
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