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Othello [Paperback]

William Shakespeare
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 12 2009 1903436451 978-1903436455 3
In a period of ten years, Shakespeare wrote a series of tragedies that established him, by universal consent, in the front rank of the world's dramatists. Critics have praised either Hamlet or King Lear as the greatest of these; Ernst Honigmann, in the most significant edition of the play for a generation, asks: why not Othello? The third of the mature tragedies, it contains, as Honigmann persuasively demonstrates, perhaps the best plot, two of Shakespeare's most original characters, the most powerful scene in any of the plays, and poetry second to none. Honigmann's cogent and closely argued introduction outlines the reasons both for a reluctance to recognize the greatness of Othello and for the case against the play.
 
This edition sheds new light on the text of the play as we have come to know it, and on our knowledge of its early history. Honigmann examines the thematic portrayal of feminism, morality, and otherness. He provides a general character criticism, but delves more deeply into Othello, Iago, Desdemona, and Emilia in individual sections. He discusses the play in performance and the relationship between reading it and seeing it. He also explores topics such as its date, sources, and the conundrum of "double time".
 
Appendices cover date, details about and possible explanations for the textual inconsistencies, the principal and minor sources for the play, Edward Pudsey's extracts, and musical settings, reproduced from F.W. Sternfeld's Music in Shakespearean Tragedy. Finally, a reference section provides a list of abbreviations and references, a catalog of Shakespeare’s works and works partly by Shakespeare, and citations for the modern productions mentioned in the text, other collated editions of his work, and other related reading.
 
The Arden Shakespeare has developed a reputation as the pre-eminent critical edition of Shakespeare for its exceptional scholarship, reflected in the thoroughness of each volume. An introduction comprehensively contextualizes the play, chronicling the history and culture that surrounded and influenced Shakespeare at the time of its writing and performance, and closely surveying critical approaches to the work. Detailed appendices address problems like dating and casting, and analyze the differing Quarto and Folio sources. A full commentary by one or more of the play’s foremost contemporary scholars illuminates the text, glossing unfamiliar terms and drawing from an abundance of research and expertise to explain allusions and significant background information. Highly informative and accessible, Arden offers the fullest experience of Shakespeare available to a reader.

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Review

"Honigmann's extensive knowledge illuminates this play at every turn, making this the best edition of Othello now available."—Brian Vickers, Review of English Studies

About the Author

E. A. J. Honigmann is the author of more than a dozen books on Shakespeare and his contemporaries, including Shakespeare: Seven Tragedies: The Dramatist's Manipulation of Response, and Myriad-Minded Shakespeare. He has taught as a lecturer at Glasgow University, as a Fellow of the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon (Birmingham University), as Joseph Cowen Professor of English Literature in the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and in Canada and the United States. His The Texts of 'Othello' and Shakespearian Revision is a companion volume to this Arden edition.

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5.0 out of 5 stars A fine edition with many helps for the reader Feb. 24 2004
Format:Paperback
This edition is from the 3rd Arden Series and may have a more modern feel to readers than the previous series did. For example, modern scholars believe that Shakespeare's plays were performed without break between scene and act so this edition does away with the ACT I Scene 2 headings and instead merely inserts 1.2 in the text where the change occurs.
There is a fine introductory essay that gives important cultural information to help the reader understand the moral climate in Venice in Shakespeare's time and the context of the play in the author's career and times.
This edition has the many good notes one expects from Arden editions. The longer notes are moved to the back to avoid too great an interruption to the readability of the text. There is also music for the two songs in the play and an index.
A fine edition that I am glad to own and refer to.
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Or read below. Note, there are spoilers.

Of the plays attributed to William Shakespeare, there are few, if any, that could fairly be called superior to Othello (though Titus Andronicus and Macbeth rest at the top of my list in that order with Othello placing a close third). It tells the story of the title character, a Moorish general, assumed by many critics to be Black, though the hue of his skin has been of some debate, who marries, without the consent of her father, Desdemona, a Venetian woman (or perhaps girl, though her age is not specified, it is assumed she is quite young). Jealousy and deceit ensue and the play ends in tragedy. Just as Merchant of Venice (also set in Venice), took on a very different meaning to readers post-Holocaust, Othello has taken on a very different context, perhaps most especially in America, with conversations about race coming to the forefront.

The focus then, for many scholars, is on race (though not exclusively). The problem of course is that the word race had a very different meaning when this play was written than it does now, and this is made abundantly clear by the fact that the word race does not appear once in the entirety of the play despite the fact that ‘race’ makes up so much of the conversation regarding Othello. As of 1547, according to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the word race meant: “A group of people belonging to the same family and descended from a common ancestor; a house, family, kindred”. This aligns race with family, not skin colour. It also meant, as early as 1572: “A tribe, nation, or people, regarded as of common stock”, tying the word in more with nationality than what most perceive as ‘race’ today.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine edition with many helps for the reader Feb. 24 2004
By Craig Matteson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This edition is from the 3rd Arden Series and may have a more modern feel to readers than the previous series did. For example, modern scholars believe that Shakespeare's plays were performed without break between scene and act so this edition does away with the ACT I Scene 2 headings and instead merely inserts 1.2 in the text where the change occurs.
There is a fine introductory essay that gives important cultural information to help the reader understand the moral climate in Venice in Shakespeare's time and the context of the play in the author's career and times.
This edition has the many good notes one expects from Arden editions. The longer notes are moved to the back to avoid too great an interruption to the readability of the text. There is also music for the two songs in the play and an index.
A fine edition that I am glad to own and refer to.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great guide to one of Shakespeare's best tragedies June 16 2007
By Ryan P. Hilderbrand - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I have never intently read Shakespeare before, but enough people told me that I needed to read "Othello" that I decided to break down and buy a copy. Everything about Shakespeare I find intimidating, so with much trepidation did I buy this critical edition of "Othello". Needless to say, this work is AMAZING. Not only does Dr. Honigmann give notes along the way to help the reader interpret what the characters are saying, but he also provides an extensive introduction outlining Shakespeare's sources, some possible motives, and some character criticism. He also provides one of Shakespeare's main sources, a short story written by Giraldi Cinthio, and in this short story he provides notes that link it directly to the text of "Othello". I am completely sold on "The Arden Shakespeare" series, and will continue to use it in the future. A definite buy!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Arden Shakespeare is excellent! March 27 2001
By Damon Timm - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The play "Othello" is magnificant, and there are plenty of reviews to attest to that. This reviewer wants to point out greatness of the publisher and editor in this case (referring to the Arden Shakespeare). After buying Arden's "Henry V" publication a year ago, I have become a devout fan.
I will never buy Shakespeare from another publisher. While these books may be slightly more expensive than a "mass market" edition, I believe that if you are going to take the time to read and understand Shakespeare, it is well worth the extra dollar or two. The Introduction, the images, and plethora of footnotes are irreplaceable and nearly neccessary for a full understanding of the play (for those of us who are not scholars already). I recommend that you buy ALL of Shakespeare's work from Arden's critical editions.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Edition of a Great Play Jan. 3 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Shakespeare's play, "Othello" is usually recognized as one of his "great" tragedy's (with Hamlet, King Lear, and Macbeth). It certainly has a quite exciting plot and great poetry. If you have not yet had an oportunity to read this great work, I recomend it strongly. It is still an intelligent treatment of race, family and civic duty, and sex. It also has one of the most interesting bad guys around - Iago.
I read it in the Arden edition, edited by Honigmann. Honigmann argues that Othello has a strong claim at being Shakespeare's greatest tragedy and makes a strong case for the work. He has a good introduction that gives a quite balanced and clear overview on many topics regarding this play, from the "double" time method Shakespeare uses, overviews of the various characters, as well as a the stage history. Amazingly, he can be remarkably balanced, even when he is talking about his own views. While he is a decent writer, Shakespeare is better... In the text itself, he gives quite ample footnotes to help explain the language, why he picked particular readings, as well as where themes came from...
Like all scholarly Shakespeare editions, the notes are in danger of overloading the text. This reader, however, recognizes the distance between myself and Shakespeare and so I find it comforting to be able to look at the notes when I have questions. At times his "longer notes" were awkward, but there is no easy way to handle this amount of material.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For Me April 17 2013
By Rocco Dormarunno - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I have just completed a review of the Othello (Folger Shakespeare Library) in which I discuss how much my students enjoy and appreciate that edition. The Arden edition, however, is the one that I love. This edition is for me.

The footnoting and explications are more abundant and detailed. What other reviewers have considered unnecessary, I consider interesting and provocative. Perhaps my students would have been distracted and, worse, discouraged by the extensive references but I use them for possible discussion points in class. In private, I relish almost all of it.

It is also sturdy and the binding has yet to crack. Considering how often I refer to this edition, that's pretty remarkable!
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