How Shakespeare Changed Everything
By Stephen Marche
(HarperTorch, Hardcover, 9780061965531, 203pp.)
Publication Date: May 2011
List Price: $21.99*
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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: Shakespeare coined over 1,700 words, including hobnob, glow, lackluster, and dawn. Paul Robeson's 1943 performance as Othello on Broadway was a seminal moment in black history. Tolstoy wrote an entire book about Shakespeare's failures as a writer. In 1936, the Nazi Party tried to claim Shakespeare as a Germanic writer. Without Shakespeare, the book titles Infinite Jest, The Sound and the Fury, and Brave New World wouldn't exist.
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.
“How Shakespeare Changed Everything will provide the details and keep you amused while it does. A teacher who makes the class read the book won’t get much backlash from the sourpuss who calls Shakespeare dull and out-of-date.”
“How Shakespeare Changed Everything is a joyful little book that is a love note to the greatest writer in the English language: never syrupy or over the top, it’s a pleasure to read.”
“This is a wonderful book about seeing the world through Shakespeare-tinted glasses. You’ll never look at the food court, Justin Beiber—or, for that matter, the English language—the same way again.”
-A. J. Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically
“How Shakespeare Changed Everything is fun and informative, with more than its share of ‘Aha!’ moments packed between its diminutive covers. Mr. Marche’s thesis is compelling and probably more true than we ever imagined.”
-New York Journal of Books
“A sprightly, erudite sampling of Shakespeare’s influence on absolutely everything.”
“An ambitious and entertaining new book...[How Shakespeare Changed Everything] explores the many, often unsuspected ways in which the great playwright shaped just about every facet of contemporary culture.”
-Maria Popova, BrainPickings.com
“In his highly readable, never ponderous, sometimes funny, often insightful new book, [Stephen Marche] credits the Bard with everything from shaping American history (the rise of Obama, the fall of Lincoln) to the very enjoyable sex you had last night.”
“Informed, ebullient and profoundly respectful.”
“[How Shakespeare Changed Everything] is informative and entertaining.”
“[A] charming tribute...This highly accessible paean to someone whom Marche describes as “the world’s most powerful writer” serves as yet another reminder of the impact Shakespeare has had on culture worldwide.”
-Quill & Quire
“We are lucky that Stephen Marche had his mind blown by Shakespeare; we are luckier still that in making the argument for Shakespeare’s inextinguishable relevance, he has given us a contact high.”
“There’s not a drop of boredom in this little book.”