Friday, February 10, 2012

That, in Aleppo Once

I'm going to confess something really embarrasing. Try not to think too poorly of me for it.

I first read Othello at about the age of 27, and I didn't have any idea where Aleppo, or Rhodes, or Cypress really were. I had the vaguest of vague ideas that they were somewhere in the middle east, but they may have been Lothlorien for all I could place them on a map or say anything about them that didn't involve Othello.

Only after I taught a seminar on the Other in early modern drama and started to read historical stuff about the Ottoman empire and such did I sort of realize what a fascinating and complex area the middle east and Mediterranean are. But they're still nothing like as real or vivid in my imagination as England (not even the whole of the UK, because I know little about Ireland, and only a bit more about Scotland and Wales), South America (specifically Ecuador), and Japan.

But still, when I heard this morning on the radio about the explosions in Aleppo, my mind went first to Othello. It shouldn't, but it did.


  1. Let me make a geographic confession to give you some company in your embarrassment. I grew up on Long Island, and whenever we took trains into the city we would change trains at the Jamaica train station. I was well into high school before I realized that the ads I would see in winter for airfare/vacations to Jamaica were not, in fact, ads for ways to travel to Jamaica, Queens. I always wondered why there were advertisements for flying somewhere it was so easy to take the train to.

    My geography is much better now, thanks to more reading and my own travel, but I never see a reference to Jamaica w/o thinking of trains and this early confusion.

  2. Funny you should mention Othello. My first thought was of Macbeth.

  3. Good one, Susan,

    Chris Y, Oh, coolness! I'd forgotten about that lovely line. I've been reading a bit about pirates and seafaring and such, so it's good to be reminded!