Revisiting Othello in Caryl Phillips’s The Nature of Blood and Toni Morrison’s Desdemona
CitationCuder–Domínguez, P. (2023). Revisiting Othello in Caryl Phillips’s The Nature of Blood and Toni Morrison’s Desdemona. In Caryl Phillips’s Genealogies (pp. 149–166). BRILL. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004545557_009
AbstractOver the centuries, Othello has become an emblematic portrait of the black presence in the West. Historically, many black writers and theorists have felt interpellated by Shakespeare's play's compelling picture of black isolation and double consciousness. Given the far-reaching influence of this representation of diasporic blackness, it is not surprising that Caryl Phillips has repeatedly turned to muse on the character in his non-fiction and fiction alike. In this chapter I examine his rewriting of Othello's voice in The Nature of Blood (1997) and compare it to Desdemona (2012), a play written collaboratively by Nobel-Prize awardee Toni Morrison and Mali musician Rokia Traoré, in order to trace their parallel genealogies. I argue that both Phillips and Morrison examine in rich detail the race, class, and gender tensions that underlie their source text, mapping complex affective geographies of belonging and deeply entangled relationalities.
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