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Othello: A Delhi group reads Shakespeare for many reasons

A reading group in Delhi discusses world classics to bring literary and philosophical discussions to public spaces

long reads Updated: Apr 24, 2017 11:43 IST
Danish Raza
Shakespeare’s Othello
Shakespeare’s Othello(HT Photo)

If you are one of those people who believe that there aren’t enough platforms for open-ended participatory discussions on books and authors, you might want to attend the upcoming meet-up of Readers’ Break, an effort to bring together aspiring readers and writers.

Group members meet every weekend at a public place to discuss a book decided through an online poll. Anyone can register and join from anywhere.

This weekend, they will discuss William Shakespeare’s Othello at Coffee Home in Connaught Place.

“The idea is to encourage readers to meet regularly in order to reflect and exchange on matters pertaining to literature and philosophy. And we wanted to do this in the public space, outside of the habitual university campuses to offer free and open access for everyone to participate,” said 29-year-old Samuel Buchoul, founder of Readers’ Break, who is from France.

Othello is among Shakespeare’s most celebrated plays. Filmmakers and playwrights, the world over, keep coming up with their interpretations of Othello in different languages and formats. “The play is very relevant in our times. People can relate to all the emotions which form the core of the play: jealousy, misunderstanding, the sense of belonging,” said Suroopa Mukherjee, associate professor, department of English, Delhi University.

The idea of a flexible reading group meeting came to Buchoul in late 2015 and it became a weekly event in May 2016.

Milan Kundera, Oscar Wilde, Khushwant Singh, Amartya Sen, Franz Kafka, JD Salinger and Jhumpa Lahiri are some of the authors whose work has been discussed in the past. But their most-discussed author so far has been Albert Camus. “We take pride in including a large variety of writers, but on the whole our picks have one thing in common. They show subtle and interesting meeting points between philosophy and literature,” said Jahandad Babar, a group member and Urdu literature enthusiast.

Both Babar and Buchoul believe that reading clubs in universities and colleges are usually confined to a fixed set of authors due to which the scope of exploration becomes limited. But Readers’ Break seeks to make it more participative -- not only during the sessions but also via Facebook where members suggest books every month. “I grew up in France with many cultural discussions and debates on radio and TV,” said Buchoul. “For us to become responsible citizens, we ought to have an atmosphere which allows literary and philosophical discussions at public spaces.”

Details

What: Readers’ Break

When: April 8, Saturday, 6.30-9.30 pm

Where: Coffee Home, Baba Kharak Singh Marg, Connaught Place.

Entry free

Contact: 9560442012

Nearest metro station: Rajiv Chowk