Variations in the Versions of Othello

I figured that if I were to compare the various versions of Othello, the easiest method would be to take the same exact excerpt and briefly analyze some of the subtle (or not-so-subtle differences). This was a lot easier said than done since I had to retype each of these sections from several PDFs, and since I’m lazy, I chose the first section of each version (also, navigating through these webpages was apparently too difficult for me since I kept accidentally zooming in and out or I ended up with a black screen….).

QUARTO 1 (BRITISH LIBRARY)

Enter Iago and Rodorigo.

Rodrigo. Tvfh, neuer tell me, I take it very vnkindly that you Iago, who has had my purfe, As if y ftrings were thine, fhould’ft know of this.

Iag. S’blood, but you willnot heare me, If euer I did dreame of fuch a matter, abhorre me.

Rod. Thou toldft me, Thou didft hold him in thy hate.

FIRST FOLIO (BRANDEIS UNIVERSITY)

Rodrigo. Neuer tell me, I take it very vnkindly that thou (Iago) who haft had my purfe, As if y ftrings were thine, fhould’ft know of this.

Ia. But you’l not heare me. If euer I did dream of fuch a matter, abhorre me.

Rodo. Thou told’ft me, Thou didft hold him in thy hate.

SECOND FOLIO (NEW SOUTH WALES)

Rodrigo. Never tell me, I take it very unkindly that thou (Iago) who haft had my purfe, (this. As if the ftrings were thine, fhould’ft know of

Iago. But you’l not heare me. Of fuch a matter, abhorre me.

Rod. Thou told’ft me, Thou didft hold him in thy hate.

THIRD FOLIO (NEW SOUTH WALES)

Rodorigo. Never tell me, I take it very unkindly that thou (Iago) who haft had my purse, (this. As if the ftrings were thine, fhould’ft know of

Iago. But, you’ll not hear me. If ever I did or fuch a matter, abhor me.

Rodo. Thou told’ft me, thou didft hold him in thy hate.

ORIGINAL TEXT (SPARKNOTES)

RODERIGO Tush! Never tell me. I take it much unkindly

That thou, Iago, who hast had my purse

As if the strings were thine, shouldst know of this.

 

IAGO ‘Sblood, but you’ll not hear me! If ever I did dream of such a matter, abhor me.

RODERIGO Thou told’st me

Thou didst hold him in thy hate.

Transcribing these was a LOT more difficult than I thought it would be. Initially, I thought I was going crazy with the spellings because I wasn’t sure if I had wrote the wrong letters down. I attempted to correct a letter or two so that I could form actual words with correct modern-day spellings, but very soon I realized that this was a similarity among the four versions that I looked at. I’m assuming that it was probably meant to be that way and that I have absolutely no knowledge in Old English. Still, as of now, I’m not quite sure if I transcribed all four of the versions correctly (is it an f or is it an s or…. neither?). However, I attempted to be consistent across the board.

To me, the variations between the first folio, second folio, and third folio were minimal– at least, in the very short excerpt that I looked at. However, there were slightly more noticeable differences comparing Quarto 1 with the Folios. I think it’s more interesting if you just take a look above to see the small differences since my analysis would require a lot of speculation on my part. What  I believe I can accurately comment on is the “Original Text” portion that I copied from SparkNotes. This is not the “Modern Text” translation that No Fear Shakespeare provides yet it is most definitely the most modern amongst the four other versions.  Clearly, versions of Othello have evolved over hundreds of years. If there is anything that I’ve gotten out of this, it’s that next time I groan about not understanding my readings from Shakespeare, I should be glad that I don’t have to read it from a Quarto 1 or Folio version.

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