By Stephen Marche
Harper, $21.99, 204 pages
What do the following have in common?: the name “Jessica,” the words amazement and lackluster, and the phrase “It’s Greek to Me.” William Shakespeare created them all. The famous playwright coined more words than any other writer in any language – over 1,700 words including hobnob, glow, dawn, alligator and anchovy. Author Stephen Marche celebrates one of the greatest writers of all time in How Shakespeare Changed Everything. Four hundred years later, Shakespeare and his legacy significantly impacts today’s society. Marche chose Shakespeare as his PhD subject because he thought the great author would never bore him. Over a decade after finishing his degree, Marche continues to find Shakespeare’s influence in the most unexpected places. The book reads like a thesis in some places, but Shakespeare fans are likely used to academic texts. Marche’s chapter on Othello discusses how a racist play has become a vehicle for liberation and he claims that Shakespeare’s frankness about sex has led to the acceptance of unrepressed and shame free attitudes in the bedroom. Read this fascinating book to see if you agree with Marche’s opinion that Shakespeare has shaped our world more than any political or religious leader, explorer, or engineer.