Green-eyed monster syndrome mocks Othello | Susannah clapp



I were puzzled over a dramatic question from a psychiatrist friend. He had been consulted about a patient who was behaving erratically, obsessed with the idea that his wife was having an affair. A colleague diagnosed with “Othello syndrome,” which is apparently the accepted term for pathological erotic jealousy. My friend thinks it’s wrong. Othello was not delusional: he was duped into persuading Iago that a handkerchief was proof of Desdemona’s infidelity. He wonders if Leontes de The winter tale, who, on a whim, accuses his wife and his best friend of continuing, could he not more precisely lend his name to the condition? Or could I think of another candidate, in Shakespeare or elsewhere, to represent all-consuming but not suicidal jealousy?

I consulted with a trio of English graduates: they were puzzled – and I’m still looking. The best suggestion so far has come from a friend’s 13-year-old son. He thought Adrian Mole would be a perfect fit for the case.

thank you joke

Penelope Fitzgerald. Photograph: Jane Bown / The Observer

the London book review recently released a small volume of plays by Penelope Fitzgerald, a great reminder of the reach of book reviews. The novelist‘s unwavering brilliance prompted me to look for a little cache of postcards she sent when I was helping edit it at the LRB (in fact, she didn’t need to edit): one of them explained that she was getting ready to take a writing class in Yorkshire – “madness, because that doesn’t make than to encourage more writers and there are already too many ”.

The cache was temporarily gone and the only card I could get my hands on was a thank you note written after a party in 1981. It had arrived in spectacular fashion – the LRB the staff always cut strawberries and arranged flower pots at the back of the lawn, like a garden. The novelist sat for half an hour in an armchair, looking out the window, chatting. His map (a painting by Maclise The eve of Saint Agnes) was characteristic: clearly written but mysterious – tactful? Feline? A joke? “It was a nice party and obviously getting better and better…” She was gone before someone else arrived.

Shared place

The Royal Court theater
The theater of the Royal Court: center of festive amusement. Photograph: Jansos / Alamy

A little solace for the Royal Court, to which last week two corporate sponsors withdrew their support following the dispute over anti-Semitic stereotypes in Al Smith’s play Rare earth mettle. At least Sloane Square itself is a happier place for now. Usually the darkest of traffic islands, surrounded by taxis and riches, it will feature, until December 23, a theater-run restaurant and bar, offering cocktails, currywurst and bottled hot water.

It is the rebirth of an old dream. Just over 20 years ago, architects Haworth Tompkins, commissioned to redesign the theater, wanted to connect the newly placed basement bar to the plaza via an underground connection next to a former women’s toilet. The Cadogan domain refused permission.

Covid and the need for an outside congregation made him think again and we can now see what we have been denied these two decades. A lively rather than desolate area, with the audience and passers-by sharing a space, with the theater part of the flow of life. The Court is working on a new offer in the plaza for January. I hope he gets it.

Drill a bore

The Duchess of Cornwall meets the cast of Archers.
The Duchess of Cornwall meets the cast of Archers. Photograph: Kate Green / Getty Images

The Archers deserves kudos on one of his meta-moments, I think scripted by the great Nick Warburton. Bert Fry’s recently deceased son has arrived, talking animatedly about his obsessions – travel arrangements and stones. He is, complains Tony Archer, “the most boring man” of all time. “Boring” is a surprising new addition to the Ambridge lexicon. Tony, far from being the most dynamic villager, is he really the best first user?

Susannah Clapp is the theater critic for the Observer



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