Othello: The Moor of Venice

Overview

A prose retelling of Shakespeare's play in which a jealous general is duped into thinking that his wife has been unfaithful, with tragic consequences.

A legitimate way to take the 'toil and trouble' out of reading Shakespeare. --American Teacher

A useful teaching tool. --The New York Times

A prose retelling of Shakespeare's ...

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Overview

A prose retelling of Shakespeare's play in which a jealous general is duped into thinking that his wife has been unfaithful, with tragic consequences.

A legitimate way to take the 'toil and trouble' out of reading Shakespeare. --American Teacher

A useful teaching tool. --The New York Times

A prose retelling of Shakespeare's play in which a jealous general is duped into thinking that his wife has been unfaithful, with tragic consequences.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
More than a retelling, this aptly termed "reconceptualization" provocatively modernizes Shakespeare's play. As in the original, the middle-aged general Othello the ``moor'' and young European noblewoman Desdemona fall in love and marry secretly. But Lester (To Be a Slave; John Henry) transplants the action from Venice and Cyprus to Elizabethan England and turns Iago and Emily into Africans like Othello, so that the three of them share a distinctly non-European point of view. Iago's envy of Othello and ability to whip him into a jealous rage at Desdemona are thus cast in a new light, though the tragic outcome remains the same. While the ending feels abrupt, Lester's novel succeeds in holding up a mirror to contemporary society. Phrases and passages directly based on Shakespeare's language are printed in a different typeface, a device that may distract the reader but eases comparisons with the original work. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)
The ALAN Review - Barbara G. Samuels
Shakespeare's plays often retell stories from other sources. In this novel, Julius Lester reverses that order and transforms Othello from drama to novel form. In doing so, he further investigates the characters of Othello, Iago, and Desdemona and provides answers to questions left unanswered by Shakespeare. He transforms Iago and his wife Emilia into Africans, sets the novel in England, and explores the racial issues in the story. Lester, author of books on slavery and African Americans in the United States, makes the mixed-race marriage and the relationships between blacks and whites more relevant and accessible to contemporary young people with his interpretation of the play. Of course most of the language in the novel is changed, but readers familiar with Shakespeare will recognize phrases and sentences as well as modern paraphrasing of allusions to Elizabethan society. Othello: A Novel may provide a transition to help students move into Shakespeare while at the same time raising challenging questions for discussion.
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-In this beautiful and powerful novelization of Shakespeare's play, Lester has kept the plot intact but made some other changes crucial to his purpose. He shifts the setting from Venice to England and, most significantly, makes Othello, Iago, and Iago's wife all definitively black. They share a three-way friendship that originated in their native Africa. It is important that Iago is black and thereby released from any racist intent; the author is then able to maintain the focus of the tragedy on the weaknesses of the human soul and on problems of perception versus reality. But through the enhanced character development afforded by the novel form, Lester has also explored problems of racial alienation. His prose is an incredibly skillful blend of his own words and Shakespeare's, both paraphrased and quoted directly, interwoven seamlessly into a narrative that transmutes the musical feeling of Shakespeare's language into modern English. This is a book to be enjoyed on its own but is sure to send many readers back to the original with a heightened understanding of and appreciation for it. This wonderful achievement is a must for all libraries.-Margaret Cole, Oceanside Library, NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780155676787
  • Publisher: Harcourt College Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/1/1973
  • Pages: 108

Table of Contents

List of characters 1
Othello 3
Coroner's investigation 222
'Far more fair than black'--Language, race and culture in the play 224
Is Othello a racist play? 227
Culture and identity 228
It's a man's world 230
Critics' forum 232
So, what is Othello about? 234
William Shakespeare 236
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