Episode 163: Introduction to Shakespeare’s “Othello”
On this episode of The Literary Life Podcast with Angelina Stanford, Cindy Rollins, and Thomas Banks, our hosts introduce their new series on Shakespeare’s play Othello. They share some tips and strategies for those new to Shakespeare, both as independent readers and for reading along with children. Angelina also talks more specifically about how to approach reading a Shakespearean tragedy. Finally, our hosts respond to the idea that Shakespeare plays should be watched, not read. Join us back here next week to dive into the discussion of Othello!
Register now for our 5th Annual Literary Life Online Conference coming up April 12-15, 2023, Shakespeare: The Bard for All and for All Time. Get all the details and sign up today at houseofhumaneletters.com.
The devils come because the half-gods go,
But in the end the gods, the gods return.Humbert Wolfe
I was rereading chapter 14 of Surprised by Joy, and there it was, the opening quote from George MacDonald: “The one principle of hell is – ‘I am my own’.”Andrew Johnson
A convention is a form of freedom. That is the reality that the realists cannot get into their heads. A dramatic convention is not a constraint on the dramatist; it is a permission to the dramatist. It is a permit allowing him to depart from the routine of external reality, in order to express a more internal and intimate reality. . . .
But as Shakespeare had the liberty of a literary convention, he can make Macbeth say something that nobody in real life would say, but something that does express what somebody in real life would feel. It expresses such things as music expresses them; though nobody in those circumstances would recite that particular poem, any more than he would begin suddenly to play on the violin. But what the audience wants is the emotion expressed; and poetry can express it and commonplace conversation cannot. . . .
The realist is reduced to inarticulate grunts and half-apologetic oaths, like an apoplectic major in a club.G. K. Chesterton
by Walter de la Mare
A dark lean face, a narrow, slanting eye,
Whose deeps of blackness one pale taper’s beam
Haunts with a flitting madness of desire;
A heart whose cinder at the breath of passion
Glows to a momentary core of heat
Almost beyond indifference to endure:
So parched Iago frets his life away.
His scorn works ever in a brain whose wit
This world hath fools too many and gross to seek.
Ever to live incredibly alone,
Masked, shivering, deadly, with a simple Moor
Of idiot gravity, and one pale flower
Whose chill would quench in everlasting peace
His soul’s unmeasured flame — O paradox!
Might he but learn the trick! — to wear her heart
One fragile hour of heedless innocence,
And then, farewell, and the incessant grave.
” O fool! O villain! ” — ’tis the shuttlecock
Wit never leaves at rest. It is his fate
To be a needle in a world of hay,
Where honour is the flattery of the fool;
Sin, a tame bauble; lies, a tiresome jest;
Virtue, a silly, whitewashed block of wood
For words to fell. Ah! but the secret lacking,
The secret of the child, the bird, the night,
Faded, flouted, bespattered, in days so far
Hate cannot bitter them, nor wrath deny;
Else were this Desdemona. . . . Why!
Woman a harlot is, and life a nest
Fouled by long ages of forked fools. And God —
Iago deals not with a tale so dull:
To have made the world! Fie on thee, Artisan!
Othello by William Shakespeare
London Sonnets by Humbert Wolfe
The Soul of Wit by G. K. Chesterton, edited by Dale Ahlquist
Surprised by Joy by C. S. Lewis
Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb
Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare by Edith Nesbit
Leon Garfield’s Shakespeare Stories by Leon Garfield
Stories from Shakespeare by Marchette Chute
Asimov’s Guide to Shakespeare by Isaac Asimov
The Meaning of Shakespeare by Harold Goddard
The Elizabethan World Picture by E. M. Tillyard
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