Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Book Review: I, Iago

They called me "honest Iago" from an early age,
but in Venice, this is not a compliment. It is rebuke.
One does not prosper by honesty.

Nicole Galland's novel provides a different perspective on the Shakespearean tale of Othello ... the villain's perspective. Narrated by Iago, the architect of Othello's downfall, the story cleverly weaves a background, his motivations for his actions, a different view on the circumstances.

The story behind the creation of the novel is that the author had been involved in putting on one hour versions of Shakespere's play only to discover when they went to do Othello that the actor to play Iago hadn't even read the play. She worked through the character with him but that raised more questions and ideas for her about Iago's motivations, his relationship with his wife, his actions when he was found out and the other character's responses.

The story starts with Iago growing up in Venice, joining the Venetian artillery, falling deeply in love with his wife Emilia and becoming Othello's ensign. But his jealousy of not being appointed lieutenant and over Othello's obsession with his beautiful wife Desdemona drive him to action that leads to disastrous results.

In this story Iago is a complex man. Dismissive of the Venetian class system, yet driven by a need to raise his status. Deeply loving of both Emilia and Othello yet he destroys them both as he himself is destroyed. Known for honesty but brought down by lies. It is a convincing story of a man's downfall.

I have to admit that I'm not that familiar with Othello the play. I knew the basics but I think I've only seen a television adaptation once so the twists and turns were a surprise but I think you would enjoy it as much if you were familiar with the play as if you had never seen it. Overall I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in Shakespere or even just a villain's perspective on his crimes.

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