A CULTURAL CONTEXT FOR OTHELLO KRISTIN JOHNSEN-NESHATI

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othello1A CULTURAL CONTEXT FOR OTHELLO KRISTIN JOHNSEN-NESHATI

Scholars disagree as to when Shakespeare finished writing Othello, but we can date the play from its first performance by the King’s Men on November 1, 1604, at the court of James I. Multiple productions followed at the Globe and Blackfriars theatres, and the play was mounted at court again in 1612–1613 in honor of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding. Shakespeare’s principal source for the plot was a short story by the Italian writer Cinthio Giambattista Giraldi (1504-1574), who included it in a collection of 100 domestic stories titledHecatommithi, published in Venice in 1566. No English translation is believed to have existed before 1753, so Shakespeare may have read it in either the original Italian or in a French translation published in 1584. A handful of lines from Shakespeare’s text recall phrases from the Italian and French versions, suggesting that he may have read it in both languages……..

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