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Shakespeare has never been more ubiquitous, not only on the stage and in academic writing, but in film, video and the popular press. On television, he advertises everything from cars to fast food. His birthplace, the tiny Warwickshire village of Stratford-Upon-Avon, has been transformed into a theme park of staggering commercialism, and the New Globe, in its second season, is already a far bigger business than the old Globe could ever have hoped to be. If popular culture cannot do without Shakespeare, continually reinventing him and reimagining his drama and his life, neither can the critical and scholarly world, for which Shakespeare has, for more than two centuries, served as the central text for analysis and explication, the foundation of the western literary canon and the measure of literary excellence.The Shakespeare the essays collected in these volumes reveal is fully as multifarious as the Shakespeare of theme parks, movies and television. Indeed, it is part of the continuing reinvention of Shakespeare. The essays are drawn for the most part from work done in the past three decades, though a few essential, enabling essays from an earlier period have been included. They not only chart the directions taken by Shakespeare studies in the recent past, but they serve to indicate the enormous and continuing vitality of the enterprise, and the extent to which Shakespeare has become a metonym for literary and artistic endeavor generally.