Friday, April 27, 2012

Book Review: How Shakespeare Changed Everything by Stephen Marche

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Author: Stephen Marche
Publisher: Harper
Hardcover: 203 pages
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)
In the spirit of Alain de Botton, Marche takes readers on a colorful journey that reveals the hidden influence of William Shakespeare in our culture--from politics to psychotherapy.

Overall Rating: 3/5

Having been accepted into a teaching program, and knowing that I will most likely being teaching high school English in a few years, I have become a little obsessed with reading things about works I'll probably be teaching. Shakespeare is top on that list since I hated studying his plays in high school, and I want my future students to actually enjoy the experience. As the title suggests, How Shakespeare Changed Everything is a collection of anecdotes about  Shakespeare's influence on society.

Most of the stuff presented is quite interesting. Marche goes into how Freud was deeply influenced by Shakespeare, and even takes the time to present some of the many words and phrases Shakespeare coined. Without him, we wouldn't have "bandit, fashionable, lackluster, glow, etc." For those who teach Shakespeare, you definitely should check this out. It will give you quite a few responses to the "Why should we care? This doesn't affect us." attitude that students sometimes have.

How Shakespeare Changed Everything is an enjoyable, fast read that has a lot of good stories about the influence of Shakespeare. Marche's enthusiasm for the greatness of Shakespeare bursts through every page, which made me excited to read what he had to say. However, I do think it goes a little too far in its claims sometimes. While nobody can ignore the comparison made between Othello and President Obama, I really don't think Obama was elected into office because of our subconscious knowledge of the inner workings of Othello. Still, this is something that all Shakespeare lovers will appreciate.