If It Weren’t for Shakespeare…Ten Book Titles That Quote Shakespeare

William Shakespeare had that certain type of genius. He could basically steal from disparate sources and make something brand new. He is said to have lifted from Holinshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland, The Danish History of Saxo Gramaticus' Gesta Danorum,Seneca, Plutarch, Giovanni Boccacio, Arthur Brooke (or Broke,) Thomas Kyd, and local folktales. But, it's as if he invented the English language. He inspired millions to steal and invent in every medium: in more plays, music, poetry, painting, films, and novels. If it weren't for Shakespeare we wouldn't have these titles.

O Brave New World with William Shakespeare in It.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley: the title is from the Tempest(V.i.2235) "O brave new world, That has such people in't." But this time the outcast is our hero; fascism is sinister.

Cakes and Ale by W. Somerset Maugham: the title is from Twelfth Night (II.iii.816) "Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?" A puritan shouldn't spoil all the fun.

Dogs of War by Sheila Keenan: the title is from Julius Caesar (III.i.1502) "Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war."

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace: the title is from Hamlet (V.i.3516): "Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest."

Nothing Like the Sun by Anthony Burgess: the title is from Sonnet 130 "My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun; Coral is far more red than her lips' red; If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun."

Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov: the title is from Timon of Athens (IV.iii.2137) "The sun's a thief, and with his great attraction Robs the vast sea: the moon's an arrant thief, And her pale fire she snatches from the sun: The sea's a thief, whose liquid surge resolves The moon into salt tears..."

The Sound and the Fury by William Falkner: the title is from Macbeth (V.v.2383) "it is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing."

Under the Greenwood Tree by Thomas Hardy: the title is from As You Like It (II.v.820)
"Under the greenwood tree; Who loves to lie with me, And turn his merry note Unto the sweet bird's throat, Come hither... Here shall he see No enemy But winter and rough weather."

The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck: the title is from Richard III (I.i.2)  "Now is the winter of our discontent Made glorious summer by this sun of York."

"And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name."
William Shakespeare, Midsummer Night's Dream (V.i.1845)

More Books, Please

For more books inspired by the Bard see my Fiction Inspired by Shakespeare booklist