Shakespeare has changed your life, even if you've never read him or seen one of his plays. When I was a professor teaching Intro to Shakespeare, I started telling the stories in this book to impress other students the vital importance of his plays to their lives. To people largely unfamiliar with his genius, the name Shakespeare can produce a vague impression of British stuffiness, of Cambridge dons in tweed and Wednesday matinees attended by school groups in rose gardens. The truth is that he belongs absolutely to our moment, to our experience. The word he created and inhabited is filthy and exalted, cheap and rarified, gorgeous and vile, full of confusion and sudden epiphany; in short as full and complicated as our own.