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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: June ::
Othello 1811 and Charles Lamb
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1289  Wednesday, 25 June 2003

From:           Rolland Banker <
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Date:           Wednesday, 25 Jun 2003 05:43:45 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 1261 Othello 1811 and Charles Lamb
Comment:        SHK 14. 1261 Othello 1811 and Charles Lamb

In Charles Lamb's "Tragedies of Shakespeare, considered with reference
to their fitness for stage representation."(1811)

Lamb states in a typically archaic 19th century viewpoint:

"Nothing can be more soothing, more flattering to the nobler parts of
our natures, than to read of a young Venetian lady of highest
extraction, through the force of love and from a sense of merit in him
whom she loved, laying aside every consideration of kindred, and
country, and colour, and wedding with a coal-black Moor--(for such he is
represented, in the imperfect state of knowledge respecting foreign
countries in those days, compared with our own or in compliance with
popular notions, though the Moors are now well enough known to be by
many shades less unworthy of a white woman's fancy)--it is the perfect
triumph of virtue over accidents, of the imagination over the senses.
She sees Othello's colour in his mind. But upon the stage, when the
imagination is no longer the ruling faculty, but we are left to our poor
unassisted senses, I appeal to every one that has seen Othello played,
whether he did not, on the contrary, sink Othello's mind in his color;
whether he did not find something extremely revolting in the courtship
and wedded caresses of Othello and Desdemona; and whether the actual
sight of the thing did not over-weigh all that beautiful compromise
which we make in reading;...." End of Lamb quote.

Therefore, Shakespeare with deft knowledge and understanding of the
human sensibilities of his time, yet with an intellect vastly superior
to us presented a play to see (ocular proof) and a script to
hear,--perchance to read, of spectacular genius. A marriage of true
minds--no impediments admitted.

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