What now, Shakespeare

On observing First Folio by Brandeis University, there were three things that caught my eye off the bat. The first was shortening the characters names after introducing them with the full name: Roderigo was Rod., Iago was Ia., Brabantio was Bra. The reason behind this might simply be because of the lack of space, however, it was inconsistent. Occasionally it switches from Iago to Ia. and from Rod. to Rodo. This inconsistency was very interesting but I am not sure what the meaning of it was. Something even more absurd, when I actually began to read the text, I noticed that some of the letters were different! Whenever the text should be the letter “u,” or at least what we define as a “u,” it was a “v” instead. Instead of spelling “up,” it was “vp,” and “unkindly” was replaced with “vnkindly.” When there was supposed to be a “v,” it was changed to a “u.” I’m not finished yet! There was no “s;” there was only the letter “f.” “Despite” was spelt “Defpife.” This was the most intriguing of all, because, obviously, we do not talk or spell this way and for some reason, the publishers of this addition did. Looking through many of the other copies, the same craziness I mentioned above holds true on them as well.

One detail that the Othello, Quarto 1 (British Library) differed from the others I looked at was a lack of parenthesis. Unlike my modern version, First, Second, Third, and Fourth Folio added parenthesis around different phrases including “(In perfonal fuit to make me his lieutenant).” There are other parenthesis in “random” parts of the play where I wouldn’t expect them to be. Similar to the Quarto 1 version, I would just assume they were normal speaking lines like the rest of the play, not how we define parenthesis today. Now, hold on, I just discovered the first “s” used; “his” is not changed to “hif” like it ought to be to follow the pattern…


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