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In all of literature, few antagonists have displayed the ruthless cunning and unscrupulous deceit of Iago, the antagonist to Othello. Often described as Machiavellian, Iago is a fascinating psychological specimen: at once a shrewd expert of the human mind and yet, himself a deeply troubled man.
One of Shakespeare's most provocative and culturally relevant plays, Othello is widely studied for its complex and enduring themes of race and racism, love, trust, betrayal, and repentance. It remains widely performed across professional and community theater alike and has been the source for many film and literary adaptations. Now award-winning writer and beloved professor Harold Bloom investigates Iago's motives and unthinkable actions with razor-sharp insight, agility, and compassion. Why and how does Iago use fake news to destroy Othello and several other characters in his path? What can Othello tell us about racism?
Bloom is mesmerizing in the classroom, treating Shakespeare's characters like people he has known all his life. He writes about his shifting understanding - over the course of his own lifetime - of this endlessly compelling figure, so that Iago also becomes an extraordinarily moving argument for literature as a path to and a measure of our humanity. This is a provocative study for our time.
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A Moor's Not Nice Guy - friend
"But we have reason to cool our raging motions, our carnal stings, our unbitted lusts, whereof I take this that you call love to be a sect or scion."
- Iago in Othello, Act I, Scene 3
I like Bloom. He's for sure problematic, but interesting. That is why I flirt (on and off) with his sometimes far-out criticisms. I enjoyed (within reason) his take on Falstaff in his Shakespeare Personalities series. This one? Meh.
I'm not sure Bloom is adding much of value, or much of a novel take here. Maybe one thing: his take that Desdemona died a virgin. But, I'm not sure that bloodless token is enough to give this three stars. It wasn't even Iago: the Banality of Evil. That Arendt approach would have at least been interesting. Anyway, I'll sleep on it and if my wife hasn't removed nor choked my meh conception, I shall groan withal.
3 people found this helpful