Old Othello

The old prints of Othello have some interesting qualities that are worth discussing. Other than the fact that the people in Shakespeare’s time spell words differently, I think that there are some misprints in the First Folio. For example, there are many other instances of U and V getting mixed together. The word “vnkindly” just doesn’t make any sense. The printing shop probably read a copy of badly hand-written copy of Othello and thought the U was V and didn’t bother to check the work. Or maybe it’s for some whole other reasons. I like the ragged and yellowing appearance of the pages. The art work is also fairly well done. The first word of the line on the next page is reprinted at the lower right hand corner, which is probably to facilitate script reading, since actors can read continuously without having to pausing while turning the pages. (So then if Shakespeare is Japanese then the first word of the line on the next page would be on the lower left hand corner…?)

The contents of the plays are fairly similar to the modern version, but the older version is somehow much harder to read. There are many words that I am not sure if they are correctly spelled or misprinted. The old copies also put the characters’ names in lower cases and had them italicized. Nowadays in most play scripts I have seen the names are always in capital letters. Maybe it’s too much trouble to use the capital letters or that the larger letters would not have fit in the designated margins. It is interesting to see how we can deduce many things about the past people’s lives just from paper and ink.


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