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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: March ::
Othello's Name
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0455  Thursday, 10 March 2005

[1]     From:   Joachim Martillo <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 09 Mar 2005 09:55:57 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0433 Othello's Name

[2]     From:   Hugh Grady <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 9 Mar 2005 10:22:14 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0444 Othello's Name

[3]     From:   Ed Kranz <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 9 Mar 2005 12:32:38 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0433 Othello's Name


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joachim Martillo <
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Date:           Wednesday, 09 Mar 2005 09:55:57 -0500
Subject: 16.0433 Othello's Name
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0433 Othello's Name

I should add that Iago's name is equally suggestive.

Iago is a variant of Jacob, and Jacob is the Hebrew Autolykus, who in
classical literature was the epitome of dishonesty and treachery.

Screenwriters and playwrights always like to include little details in
the names or dialogue that might be appropriate to the character or the
time period portrayed.  It just requires a little research, which I as a
screenwriter enjoy doing.  When I discuss a script with the actors or
other production people, there are always suggestions for minor changes
to increase verisimilitude. I doubt much as changed since the 16th and
17th century.

I seriously doubt that Shakespeare was a New Christian/Converso or a
Morisco, and the occasional clever Talmudic, Arabic or Quranic detail
proves absolutely nothing.

Joachim Martillo

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Hugh Grady <
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Date:           Wednesday, 9 Mar 2005 10:22:14 -0500
Subject: 16.0444 Othello's Name
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0444 Othello's Name

In re Paul M. Curtis's observation: "If I'm not mistaken, Joel Fineman
wrote a brilliant essay on this topic by the title "The O in Othello."

He did indeed, and the material ended up in his eccentrically brilliant
_The Subjectivity Effect in Western Literature:  Essays Toward the
Release of Shakespeare's Will_ (MIT Press, 1991). Fineman speculates
that Shakespeare coined the name Othello from the Greek root, ethelo or
thelo, meaning "want,"  "will," or "desire"-certainly central themes in
the play.  Shakespeare would not have needed much Greek for such a
borrowing, of course. But Greek would have been much more readily
accessible to him (say via his buddy Ben Jonson) than Arabic.

--Hugh Grady

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Kranz <
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Date:           Wednesday, 9 Mar 2005 12:32:38 -0500
Subject: 16.0433 Othello's Name
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0433 Othello's Name

Indeed he does in his excellent book Disowning Knowledge in Six Plays of
Shakespeare. I have the chapter on Othello, Othello and the Stake of the
Other, saved in a text file and it is absolutely brilliant. If anyone
would like this please e-mail me and I'd be happy to send it.

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