A provocative, deeply moving, and often absurdly funny memoir about how a young woman came to understand love and sexuality through the work of Shakespeare.
Jillian Keenan’s childhood was shaped by broken relationships and the manufactured romance of movies and television shows. When it came to understanding love, she had nothing to guide her—until she read A Midsummer Night’s Dream in high school, and felt Shakespeare’s language pulsating in her blood for the first time. In Sex with Shakespeare, she tells the story of how the Bard’s plays eventually helped her fathom human relationships and her own sexuality—and find a happy ending of her own.
On the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, her passionate, erudite memoir offers a fresh, unusual take on this cultural icon and his work. Keenan uses fourteen of his plays as a springboard to explore the many facets of love and sex—from desire and connection to fetish and addiction. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Keenan unmasks Helena as a sexual masochist—like Jillian herself. In Macbeth, she examines criminalized sexualities and the dark side of “privacy.” The Taming of the Shrew goes inside the secret world of BDSM, and King Lear exposes the ill-fated king as a possible sexual predator. Moving through the canon, it becomes abundantly clear that literature is a conversation, and in Sex with Shakespeare, words are love.
Keenan charts her life—and her romances—through the plays, as she wanders the world in search of herself, from northern California to Oman, Spain to Singapore, Washington, DC to Somalia. From Muslim dictatorships to Buddhist republics to disputed territories, she demonstrates Shakespeare’s universality—an entry point to discuss fraught topics such as love, romance, and our most private and public selves. Download and start listening now!