I'm to have lunch today with a fellow who goes around the world, looking at things, from whom we last heard in a garden in Mougins, addressing a steak tartare. Possibly, in the open shade of a garden in the Piedmont, we'll resort to a salade niçoise and Sancerre, but I'd be hopeful for a fine Chablis. I remember this fellow because he went to La Fenice for me to hear the Schubert 8th, whence I gave him dinner in Venice, too, because I wanted to see what to do with a good Amarone. He reminds me that it's useful to have a few palates out there to travel for one, and I recommend this expedient unreservedly, not to banish them, particularly, so much as to keep in touch with one's dog.
The commute from Venice to Cyprus is really nothing, these days, but it was of consequence to the Moor, who must also play his part at lunch. My friend tells me - insisting, it's coincidence - that he is taking up Shakespeare; and of course it's coincidence, the way one might barge into the sea between Point A and Point B. Far be it from anyone, to detain a fellow who goes around the world, looking at things, from looking at things. Hence, Othello, I think, more than Prospero at this embarkation on the marine experience.
I'll hand him two copies of the play, and Mr Welles' interesting movie about it. He can have the pristine and unmarked Pelican, staple of my college days - costing, I note, 65 cents, new; and my heavily marked up copy in the Arden edition, from hanging out with actors.
If nothing else, one is conscious in Othello of a story that is simply going nowhere in the world or in time, but onward; and every time one looks upon it, one is watching something remorseless and vast, going past. I'm a slowly educated man, but I can think of extremely few products of the mind which embody such inextin-guishable energy, that they never need - like the Parthenon - to be resummoned to contempla-tion as something excellent - but, rather, have a pulse you can see, receding in the distance.
She loved me for the dangers I had passed,
And I loved her that she did pity them.
ii Andrew Cooper
The Tragedy of Othello,
The Moor of Venice, I, iii, 167-8
Alice Walker and
John Dover Wilson, editors
The New Shakespeare
Cambridge University Press, 1957©