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William Shakespeare Collection > Othello - NO spoilers

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message 1: by Pink (new)

Pink | 6554 comments This is our Old School Classic Group Read for June 2017.

Please use this thread for general, spoiler free discussion of Othello by William Shakespeare

If you wish to discuss the plot in more detail, then please use the spoiler thread here

If you would like a free copy of the book, here are some links for online and audio versions:

Project Gutenberg

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

Librivox

It's also available on the serial reader app (14 issues) for those who use it :)


message 2: by Loretta (new)

Loretta | 2668 comments I just read this in September 2016 so I won't be doing a re-read. I'll be interested to read everyone comments though. For me the play was five stars! I hope everyone enjoys it! 🤗


message 3: by Pink (new)

Pink | 6554 comments Same here, but 4 stars for me!


message 4: by Carol (new)

Carol | 16 comments I haven't read any Shakespeare since high school, but I think I'll give this a try and see how it goes.


message 5: by Sue (last edited Jun 01, 2017 07:48AM) (new)

Sue K H (sky_bluez) | 3220 comments I read this in September with Pink and Loretta, 5 stars for me!

Carol, I hadn't read any Shakespeare since high school either. I had tried a couple times shortly after and found it too difficult to get into but had seen some of the plays and understood the live performances much more than reading them. Now, I read with one of those that have the modern text side by side and also listen to the audio and the 3 together give an amazing experience for me.

I'm so glad Shakespeare is winning in the polls this year!


message 6: by Melanti (new)

Melanti | 2384 comments This is my second favorite play by Shakespeare. I've seen it live two or three times and read it a few times as well.

I'm probably not going to reread it this time around either, but I'll definitely chime in on the discussion.


message 7: by Carlo (new)

Carlo | 206 comments A must read Shakespeare. So many different themes in one play, and the development of the relationship between Iago and Othello is fascinating.


message 8: by Erin (new)

Erin Green | 178 comments I will start reading tonight - hoping I enjoy it ad much as previous Shakespeare.


message 9: by Phil (new)

Phil Jensen | 627 comments I'll be joining this read to see if I should teach Othello or Macbeth next year.


message 10: by Tonia (new)

Tonia (yestonia) | 250 comments My only previous experience of Shakespeare was studying A Winter's Tale at college - I have pretty much avoided him at all costs since.

Surprising then that this one grabbed me immediately. I have read acts 1 and 2 this evening. At this rate, I could have it finished tomorrow!


message 11: by Cynda (new)

Cynda | 3058 comments I am glad to re-read this play. It has been many years since I have read this play. I will be reading and watching the play. Right now my tablet is at the electronic hospital :-( So I will likely wait to watch the play on youtube. Right now I am on the desktop which does not have the right level of intimacy required when I am reading. I will be checking in at least once a day.


message 12: by Loretta (last edited Jun 02, 2017 06:19AM) (new)

Loretta | 2668 comments Tonia wrote: "My only previous experience of Shakespeare was studying A Winter's Tale at college - I have pretty much avoided him at all costs since.

Surprising then that this one grabbed me immediately. I have..."


It's pretty funny how that happens sometimes with books Tonia and specifically with Shakespeare because I too hated reading anything by him in high school. Older and wiser now (lol!) I truly appreciate his tremendous writing talent! 😊


message 13: by Luella (last edited Jun 01, 2017 08:34PM) (new)

Luella | 5 comments I read this one last year for Bingo. I actually kind of enjoyed it. (view spoiler)


message 14: by Christine (last edited Jun 02, 2017 12:00AM) (new)

Christine | 1217 comments I downloaded the audio performance from the library to listen along while I read. I seem to understand Shakespeare best that way. I'm hoping to start early next week.


message 15: by Phil (new)

Phil Jensen | 627 comments Tonia wrote: "My only previous experience of Shakespeare was studying A Winter's Tale at college - I have pretty much avoided him at all costs since."

That's a really weird one to start with. Most of his plays are more gripping reads than that one.


message 16: by Tonia (new)

Tonia (yestonia) | 250 comments Phil wrote: "That's a really weird one to start with. Most of his plays are more gripping reads than that one. "

It was the only Shakespeare on the A-Level reading list at that time so our lecturer chose it. I suppose the expectation is that you will have read something by him at school - especially if you have chosen to study English Literature at ALevel, but I never did. Alternatively, my youngest, now 14 told me last week she had chosen to read Macbeth as a free-read in her last year of primary school (age 10/11) and thoroughly enjoyed it so is keen to read more Shakespeare.


message 17: by Tonia (new)

Tonia (yestonia) | 250 comments Incidentally, for anyone in the UK with access to a Scott cinema: they are showing the Royal Opera House production of Verdi's Otello on 28th June as part of their theatre screenings programme.


message 18: by Bob, Short Story Classics (new)

Bob | 4960 comments Mod
I doubt I will be joining the Shakespeare fan club, but I have been pleased with the last two plays I've read, Othello and Merchant of Venice, Othello being the better of the two, for me anyway.


message 19: by Pink (new)

Pink | 6554 comments Haha, we are starting to sound like the Shakespeare fan club recently! I wasn't a big fan of The Merchant of Venice either, but Othello is near the top for me. So far it's only been beaten by Hamlet and A Midsummer Night's Dream.

I like the layers of this play and how psychological it is. I think it would be one of the most enjoyable to teach.


message 20: by Jane (new)

Jane | 19 comments Ready to start ;)


message 21: by Tonia (new)

Tonia (yestonia) | 250 comments Finished it last night. I really liked the story.
I also found an RSC version of the play from Sky Arts on the NowTV service - Tim McInnerny plays a brilliant Iago and brings an element of humour I hadn't noticed from just reading the text (I wasn't quite so taken by Eammon Walker's representation of Othello though - nothing wrong with his actual acting, just that he seemed to affect a strange accent later in the play which I found distracting).


message 22: by Pink (new)

Pink | 6554 comments Glad you liked the play and RSC adaption. I've only watched one film version of this, the 1995 Laurence Fishburne/ Kenneth Branagh version, which I really enjoyed, but I'd like to see the play performed live one day.


message 23: by Hayley (new)

Hayley Shaver | 172 comments I loved Macbeth and the psychiatric study of the characters in the play. Haven't read Othello though.


message 24: by Cynda (last edited Jun 03, 2017 11:01PM) (new)

Cynda | 3058 comments Hayley wrote: "I loved Macbeth and the psychiatric study of the characters in the play. Haven't read Othello though."

Hayley if you enjoyed studying the character of Macbeth you might enjoy studying the evil character in Othello. I am studying him now in my copy, noting what the villian says and how what is said affects others.


message 25: by Nina (new)

Nina Ive | 69 comments I never would have read Shakespeare again were it not for this bookclub (even though I have his complete works). I loved Merchant of Venice last year, Othello this year, and I've mentally scheduled The Tempest for next year so I can read Margaret Atwoods Hagseed after. My personal challenges are to get through Dickens and Shakespeare complete works one book a year.


message 26: by Gary (last edited Jun 04, 2017 03:15PM) (new)

Gary I saw a staging of Othello in a basement theater in London many years ago. (I suppose I should say "theatre" there....) It was an unused room under a pub, if I recall correctly. There were 15-20 chairs, a stage about the size of yoga mat, but a whole bar along one end that they used for various "scene changes" if you will. It was painfully amateurish on a lot of ways (costumes, sets, etc.) but surprisingly adept in others (a few of the actors were clearly acting students/hustling performers.)

What always made an impression on me, though, was that the actor playing Othello was Arabic, so they played up the ambiguity of the "moorish" word in Shakespearean English and went with a much more middle eastern character rather than the more obviously African Othello that I'd only seen the play performed using.

The actor also played up his character's sexuality, ogling and smirking at Desdemona such that as an audience member I wasn't nearly as sympathetic to him as I had been in every other staging I'd ever seen. Later, (during the scene that has much spoilers...) the actress was wearing a little nightie that left little to the imagination, and that made it play out all that much more starkly.


message 27: by Tonia (new)

Tonia (yestonia) | 250 comments I read an old news article (from the Independent, I think) which said the RSC had their first black actor playing Othello in 2014 - I couldn't believe it was so late!

I don't know that I'd like to see Desdemona "sexed-up" - I think that her virtue and naivety are important to later plot developments.


message 28: by Gary (last edited Jun 04, 2017 03:59PM) (new)

Gary Tonia wrote: "I read an old news article (from the Independent, I think) which said the RSC had their first black actor playing Othello in 2014 - I couldn't believe it was so late!"

That is kind of hard to imagine.

Tonia wrote: "I don't know that I'd like to see Desdemona "sexed-up" - I think that her virtue and naivety are important to later plot developments."

The actress who played her didn't make her more sexed up, really. She was just wearing a very thin, white shift as "nightwear" if you will. So, it worked in context because it made her even more vulnerable.


message 29: by Tonia (new)

Tonia (yestonia) | 250 comments Gary wrote: "So, it worked in context because it made her even more vulnerable. "

I can see how that would work actually.


message 30: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (sasstel) | 426 comments I started Othello last night and got through Acts 1-3. I'm hoping to get through the rest tonight. I'm finding it an interesting read, but I don't think it will end up unseating Hamlet as my favorite Shakespearean tragedy. And as tends to be the case with me and Shakespeare, I feel a bit like I'm reading in a language that I've studied but yet am not quite fluent in. That is, I understand enough to get the gist of what is happening, but also feel fairly certain there are things I'm missing.


message 31: by Emily (new)

Emily Dybdahl | 147 comments Sarah wrote: "I started Othello last night and got through Acts 1-3. I'm hoping to get through the rest tonight. I'm finding it an interesting read, but I don't think it will end up unseating [book:..."

Shakespeare is not easy for me either which is why I end up slogging through all the introductory and afterword essays to give me more details and overview so I know what I'm going into before I start the play and I get more out of it that way. Only problem is that it takes me 3x as long to read the book, but it ends up being worthwhile...


message 32: by Kaylee (new)

Kaylee (kaylee66) | 50 comments I am just starting act 2 today. I have not read Othello before, though I have seen and enjoyed the BBC production of it.

I liked Shakespeare in school, but it's been harder getting back into it than I had anticipated, since I'm not used to the language any more.


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