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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: October ::
Re: Desdemona
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1744  Friday, 15 October 1999.

[1]     From:   Brian Haylett <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 13 Oct 1999 20:13:23 +0100
        Subj:   Re: Desdemona

[2]     From:   Judith Matthews Craig <
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        Date:   Thursday, 14 Oct 1999 15:29:41 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1736 Re: Desdemona


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brian Haylett <
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Date:           Wednesday, 13 Oct 1999 20:13:23 +0100
Subject:        Re: Desdemona

Northrop Frye (Anatomy of Criticism, Polemical Introduction) quoted John
Ruskin's footnote in Munera Pulveris:

'Of Shakespeare's names I will afterwards speak at more length; they are
curiously - often barbarously - mixed out of various traditions and
languages. Three of the clearest in meaning have been already noticed.
Desdemona - dysdaimonia, "miserable fortune" - is also plain enough.
Othello is, I believe, "the careful"; all of the calamity of the tragedy
arising from the single flaw and error in his magnificently collected
strength.  Ophelia, "serviceableness", the true, lost wife of Hamlet, is
marked as having a Greek name by that of her brother Laertes; and its
signification is once exquisitely alluded to in that brother's last word
of her, where his gentle preciousness is opposed to the uselessness of
the churlish clergy: - "A ministering angel shall my sister be, when
thou liest howling."

Frye then quotes Arnold's dismissal of this 'piece of extravagance'.

Brian Haylett
Caister-on-Sea

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Judith Matthews Craig <
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Date:           Thursday, 14 Oct 1999 15:29:41 -0500
Subject: 10.1736 Re: Desdemona
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1736 Re: Desdemona

Just a whacky thought from someone who knows a little Spanish-could
Desdemona mean literally "from" moans to an English audience?

I would certainly signify her sexual importance to Othello.  (I know
that "moan" in Spanish is "gemido").
 

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