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How Shakespeare Changed Everythingby Stephen Marche
Synopses & Reviews
Did you know the name Jessica was first used in The Merchant of Venice?
Or that Freud's idea of a healthy sex life came from Shakespeake?
Nearly four hundred years after his death, Shakespeare permeates our everyday lives: from the words we speak to the teenage heartthrobs we worship to the political rhetoric spewed by the twenty-four-hour news cycle.
In the pages of this wickedly clever little book, Esquire columnist Stephen Marche uncovers the hidden influence of Shakespeare in our culture, including these fascinating tidbits:
Stephen Marche has cherry-picked the sweetest and most savory historical footnotes from Shakespeare's work and life to create this unique celebration of the greatest writer of all time.
"According to novelist and Esquire columnist Marche, Shakespeare was 'the most influential person who ever lived,' and his works frame how we understand the world. Obama, for instance, obliquely and redemptively replayed the story of Othello in the 2008 election, and for many Americans, he is the noble Moor, a courageous, charismatic outsider. Actor John Wilkes Booth apparently borrowed heavily from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar for his theatrical assassination of Lincoln. Shakespeare enriched the English language by coining hundreds of words, like 'assassination,' 'bandit,' 'hobnob,' and 'traditional,' and expressions with amazing staying power, like 'green-eyed,' 'tongue-tied,' and 'dead as a doornail.' Marche claims that Shakespeare's frankness about sexuality has done more to foster open attitudes than even Freud (who gained his humanism from Shakespeare). Romeo and Juliet's profound portraits of teenagers in all their absurdity, nastiness, and 'terrifying beauty' have shaped our understanding of adolescence; and Shakespeare, the author claims, is the dominant influence in Hollywood and was wildly popular in Nazi Germany. Marche's essay is informative and entertaining, but also rambling. None of this adds up to Marche's claim that Shakespeare is more important than Obama or John Wilkes Booth or Freud. And only the Bard-obsessed will need a whole chapter on Shakespeare-inspired starling overpopulation. Illus. (May)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Esquirecolumnist Stephen Marche gives an expansive and exciting look at WilliamShakespeares pervasive influence on every aspect of modern culture—showing ushow we can find Shakespeare even where we least expect him. In the spirit ofAlain de Bottons How Proust Can Change Your Life,Marche reveals how Shakespeares influence is everywhere—from politics topsychotherapy, broadway to botany, emo teenagers to outrageous baby names, even zoology (didyou know its the Bard who is responsible for the starlings terrorizing NewYork Citys Central Park?). Fans of literary trivia and readers of StephenGreenblatts Will in the World and Bill Brysons Shakespeare: TheWorld as Stage will be captivated by Marches artful reading of how everyday can bring a fresh reading of the Immortal Bard of Avon.
About the Author
STEPHEN MARCHE is a novelist who also writes for newspapers and magazines. He currently writes a monthly column about culture for Esquire magazine. Ten years ago, he chose Shakespeare as the subject of his PhD because, he believed, Shakespeare would never bore him. He was correct. The best job he ever had was as a professor of Renaissance drama at the City College of New York, which he quit in 2007 to write full time. Visit him online at <>.
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