Is Shakespeare still relevant today? Before you answer, consider how many of his plays would be ruined by the addition of cellphones, writes Alexandra Petri of the Washington Post. "Soon, if we do a modern staging, we'll have to stipulate that, 'In fair Verona, where we lay our scene/The cell reception was spotty/From ancient grudge that brake the AT&T." Yesterday was Shakespeare's birthday, and it led Petri to wonder if he's one of those celebrities "who are famous primarily because they are famous."
No other 17th-century writer gets this much attention today. His language is distant and difficult. "Besides, the man was obviously a hack" given how many plays he pumped out. "Jonathan Franzen obviously takes his work more seriously," she writes. Still, he has his charms. He's one of the few writers we all have in common. "They're works we enjoy as a species. Shakespeare offers a roadmap to the human." Besides, his works hold universal, timeless truths, like "Check your messages before ingesting poison." Click to read her entire amusing column. (Read more William Shakespeare stories.)