I IAGO by David Snodin is a novel about Shakespeare’s most fascinating villain, after the events of Othello. Iago was stabbed and imprisoned at the end of Othello, but he did not die. The events in I Iago take place many years later when Iago is secretly returned to Venice for questioning.
Shakespeare created many evil characters, but what makes Iago so interesting is the way in which Iago carried out his evil plans. Iago never acted directly. Instead, Iago was able to get inside other people’s heads and sow the suspicion, mistrust and hatred which eventually lead to violence. If Iago lived in modern times, he would no doubt be working on the internet anonymously posting hate speech messages day and night just to see the results.
David Snodin’s Iago is a fascinating novel which give us a glimpse into every day life in Venice in 1520. Though Venice was supposedly an enlightened democracy, the class distinctions were rigidly enforced. Venice in 1520 was fantastically wealthy and prosperous, yet threatened on all sides by the Turks and the French. The Chief Inquisitor of Venice is both fascinated and frightened of Iago. Over the years the name Iago has become a rallying cry for those who would bring down the established order in Venice. The Inquisitor wants to find out how Iago is able to so thoroughly control other people.
Iago remains the complex villain of the story, while the hero is a young Venetian named Gentile Stornello. He is from a low level but noble family, and is the cousin of the late Desdemona. Gentile is a well educated, likable boy of 15 whose only goal in life is to catch the eye of a beautiful girl he has seen around Venice.
Through a series of unfortunate events Gentile is falsely accused of murder, and is thrown into a cell with Iago. The tough and clever Iago decides to use Gentile to help him escape. Along the way, Iago becomes a sort of evil mentor to Gentile by teaching him all the underhanded, treacherous and violent ways for a man to get what he really wants from life.
I `Iago by David Snodin is a brilliantly written novel. It fleshed out the character and motivation of Iago, while still remaining true to Shakespeare’s concept for the man.