Shakespeare’s Othello is one of his four great tragedies along with Macbeth, Hamlet, and King Lear. I especially enjoy teaching Othello, which I alternate with Lear. When I heard about Galland’s novel, I, Iago, which is part prequel and all retelling of the story from Iago’s point of view, I eagerly awaited its rise to the top of my TBR pile. This recently published novel is great fun – especially for those familiar with the play.
I won’t go into any of the details of the plot – if the play is not familiar territory, this novel would be a great introduction. But the real fun is in noticing lines and characters from the play as they pop up almost from page one. So, I would advise reading the play first.
Othello has some of the great lines from the Bard: “green-eyed monster,” “the beast with two backs,” and, of course, Iago’s final line in the play, “Ask me nothing, … What you know, you know. From this time forth I will not speak another word” (368). Some of these lines Galland alters slightly, but the essence is always there.
Even though I knew exactly how the plot would spin out, the last hundred pages or so were as thrilling as the downhill side of the highest roller coaster in the land.
Incidentally, I think the 1995 Kenneth Branagh, Lawrence Fishburne, and Irène Jacob Othello is a most interesting and accessible version of the play. 5 stars