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The Cambridge Introduction to Tom Stoppard


  • 15 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 177 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.42 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 822/.914
  • Dewey version: 23
  • LC Classification: PR6069.T6 Z617 2012
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Stoppard, Tom--Criticism and interpretation
    • DRAMA / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh.--bisacsh

Library of Congress Record

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The Cambridge Introduction to Tom Stoppard
Cambridge University Press
9781107021952 - The Cambridge Introduction to Tom Stoppard - By William W. Demastes

The Cambridge Introduction to Tom Stoppard

Tom Stoppard is widely considered to be one of the most important dramatists of contemporary theatre. In this Introduction, William Demastes provides an accessible overview of Stoppard’s life and work, exploring all the complexity and variety that makes his drama so unique. Illustrated with images from a diverse range of Stoppard productions, the book provides clear evaluations of his major works, including Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Travesties, Arcadia, and The Coast of Utopia, to provide the most up-to-date assessment available. Detailed chapters situate each play in the context of its sources, which include Shakespeare and contemporary existential thought, international espionage, quantum physics, chaos theory, romanticism, landscape design, nineteenth-century European intellectual thought, and European totalitarianism. The book also includes a section on Stoppard’s Academy Award-winning film Shakespeare in Love.

William W. Demastes is San Diego II Alumni Professor of English at Louisiana State University where he teaches modern theatre and drama.

Cambridge Introductions to. . .


Margaret Atwood Heidi Macpherson

Jane Austen Janet Todd

Samuel Beckett Ronan McDonald

Walter Benjamin David Ferris

Lord Byron Richard Lansdown

Chekhov James N. Loehlin

J. M. Coetzee Dominic Head

Samuel Taylor Coleridge John Worthen

Joseph Conrad John Peters

Jacques Derrida Leslie Hill

Charles Dickens Jon Mee

Emily Dickinson Wendy Martin

George Eliot Nancy Henry

T. S. Eliot John Xiros Cooper

William Faulkner Theresa M. Towner

F. Scott Fitzgerald Kirk Curnutt

Michel Foucault Lisa Downing

Robert Frost Robert Faggen

Gabriel Garcia Marquez Gerald Martin

Nathaniel Hawthorne Leland S. Person

Zora Neale Hurston Lovalerie King

James Joyce Eric Bulson

Thomas Mann Todd Kontje

Christopher Marlowe Tom Rutter

Herman Melville Kevin J. Hayes

Milton Stephen B. Dobranski

George Orwell John Rodden and John Rossi

Sylvia Plath Jo Gill

Edgar Allan Poe Benjamin F. Fisher

Ezra Pound Ira Nadel

Marcel Proust Adam Watt

Jean Rhys Elaine Savory

Edward Said Conor McCarthy

Shakespeare Emma Smith

Shakespeare’s Comedies Penny Gay

Shakespeare’s History Plays Warren Chernaik

Shakespeare’s Poetry Michael Schoenfeldt

Shakespeare’s Tragedies Janette Dillon

Tom Stoppard William W. Demastes

Harriet Beecher Stowe Sarah Robbins

Mark Twain Peter Messent

Edith Wharton Pamela Knights

Walt Whitman M. Jimmie Killingsworth

Virginia Woolf Jane Goldman

William Wordsworth Emma Mason

W. B. Yeats David Holdeman


American Literary Realism Phillip Barrish

The American Short Story Martin Scofield

Anglo-Saxon Literature Hugh Magennis

Comedy Eric Weitz

Creative Writing David Morley

Early English Theatre Janette Dillon

The Eighteenth-Century Novel April London

Eighteenth-Century Poetry John Sitter

English Theatre, 1660–1900 Peter Thomson

Francophone Literature Patrick Corcoran

Literature and the Environment Timothy Clark

Modern British Theatre Simon Shepherd

Modern Irish Poetry Justin Quinn

Modernism Pericles Lewis

Modernist Poetry Peter Howarth

Narrative (second edition) H. Porter Abbott

The Nineteenth-Century American Novel Gregg Crane

The Novel Marina MacKay

Old Norse Sagas Margaret Clunies Ross

Postcolonial Literatures C. L. Innes

Postmodern Fiction Bran Nicol

Romantic Poetry Michael Ferber

Russian Literature Caryl Emerson

Scenography Joslin McKinney and Philip Butterworth

The Short Story in English Adrian Hunter

Theatre Historiography Thomas Postlewait

Theatre Studies Christopher B. Balme

Tragedy Jennifer Wallace

Victorian Poetry Linda K. Hughes

The Cambridge Introduction to Tom Stoppard

William W. Demastes

Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town,
Singapore, São Paulo, Delhi, Mexico City

Cambridge University Press
The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 8RU, UK

Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York
Information on this title:

© William W. Demastes 2013

This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

First published 2012

Printed and bound in the United Kingdom by the MPG Books Group

A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication data

Demastes, William W.
The Cambridge introduction to Tom Stoppard / William Demastes.
p. cm. – (Cambridge introductions to literature)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-1-107-02195-2 (hardback)
1. Stoppard, Tom – Criticism and interpretation. I. Title.
PR6069.T6Z617 2012

ISBN 978-1-107-02195-2 Hardback
ISBN 978-1-107-60612-8 Paperback

Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.


List of illustrations
Introduction: Stoppardianism
Professional chronology
1       Stoppard: briefly, a life in the theatre
2       Keys to Stoppard’s theatre
Stoppard’s language
Stoppard’s staged thought experiments
Change is the only constant
But is it art?
On human nature and human consciousness
The political animal
To sum up
3       The breakthrough years
Two early works
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead: living and dying in theatre time
Lord Malquist and Mr. Moon: a novel idea
4       Playing with the stage
Jumpers: not your father’s (or mother’s) philosophy lesson
Travesties: art in an apocalyptic nutshell
Night and Day: journalism in the shadows
5       Science takes the stage
Hapgood: now you see me, now you don’t
Arcadia: with a world like this, heaven can wait
6       Love is in the air
The Real Thing: what is really real?
Indian Ink: never the twain . . .
Shakespeare in Love: a signature collaboration
The Invention of Love: Victoriana made curious
7       Politics humanized
The Coast of Utopia: the offshoring of politics
Part One: Voyage
Part Two: Shipwreck
Part Three: Salvage
Rock’n’Roll: the real revolution of the spirit
Conclusion: The play’s the thing
Appendix: Stoppard’s theatre: a summary
Guide to further reading


1     Tom Stoppard. © Amie Stamp
2     Jumpers. The National Theatre, London, 1972. © photostage
3     Travesties. Left to right: John Wood (Henry Carr), Tom Bell (James Joyce). Royal Shakespeare Company/Aldwych Theatre, London, 1974. © photostage
4     Night and Day. Left to right: Diana Rigg (Ruth Carson), Olu Jacobs (President Mageeba), John Thaw (Dick Wagner). Phoenix Theatre, London, 1978. © photostage.
5     Arcadia. Directed by Trevor Nunn. Design: Mark Thompson. Lighting: Paul Pyant. Standing: Bill Nighy (Bernard Nightingale); Samuel West (Valentine Coverly), Felicity Kendal (Hannah Jarvis). National Theatre/Lyttelton Theatre, London, 1993. © photostage
6     Arcadia. Directed by David Leveaux. Set design: Hildegard Bechtler. Costumes: Amy Roberts. Lighting: Paul Anderson. Ed Stoppard (Valentine Coverly), Samantha Bond (Hannah Jarvis). Duke of York’s Theatre, London, 2009. © photostage
7     The Real Thing. Directed by Peter Wood. Design: Carl Toms. Lighting: William Bundy. Roger Rees (Henry), Felicity Kendal (Annie). Strand Theatre, London, 1982. © photostage
8     Indian Ink. Directed by Peter Wood. Design: Carl Toms. Lighting: Mark Henderson. Felicity Kendal (Flora Crewe), Art Malik (Nirad Das). Aldwych Theatre, London, 1995. © photostage
9     The Invention of Love. Directed by Richard Eyre. In a punt: (rear) Michael Bryant (Charon), (front) John Wood (AEH). National Theatre/Cottesloe Theatre, 1997. © photostage
10    The Invention of Love. Directed by Jack O’Brien. Left to right: Robert Sean Leonard (Housman), Richard Easton (AEH). Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center, 2001. © Paul Kolnik
11    The Coast of Utopia: Voyage. Directed by Jack O’Brien. Standing: Ethan Hawke (Michael Bakunin); left to right: Jennifer Ehle (Liubov Bakunin), Kellie Overbey (Tatiana Bakunin), Amy Irving (Varvara Bakunin). Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center, 2006. © Paul Kolnik
12    The Coast of Utopia: Shipwreck. Directed by Jack O’Brien. Standing: Ethan Hawke (Michael Bakunin); Jason Butler Harner (Ivan Turgenev), Bianca Amato (Emma Herwegh). Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center, 2006. © Paul Kolnik
13    The Coast of Utopia: Shipwreck. Directed by Jack O’Brien. Left to right: Ethan Hawke (Michael Bakunin), Adam Dannheisser (Karl Marx). Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center, 2006. © Paul Kolnik
14    The Coast of Utopia: Salvage. Directed by Jack O’Brien. Brian F. O’Byrne (Alexander Herzen) and cast. Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center, 2006. © Paul Kolnik
15    Rock’n’Roll. Directed by Trevor Nunn. Left to right: Brian Cox (Max), Rufus Sewell (Jan). Jerwood Theatre Downstairs/Royal Court Theatre, London, 2006. © Donald Cooper/photostage


Support for this book came from several sources. The English Department at Louisiana State University awarded me a Board of Regents Grant, the College of Arts and Sciences granted me a sabbatical, and my Alumni Professorship provided travel and other funds to complete this project. An Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Research Fellowship from the Harry Ransom Center, Austin, TX, allowed me the valuable opportunity to work with the Tom Stoppard Collection, managed so well by that institution.

Vicki Cooper and Fleur Jones at Cambridge University Press were central in getting this project to publication. Jacky Matthews, Rose Cobbe, and Tom Stoppard himself were helpful in ways tangible and intangible. Donald Cooper and Paul Kolnik were invaluable in helping me find photos for this book. I also thank the publishers at Grove Press and Faber & Faber for permission to quote from Stoppard’s works. I must also thank a classroom full of “test subjects,” dedicated students who helped me figure out which of my bright ideas should be included in or excluded from this text. That noble band included Randon Gilmore, Travis Williams, Anne Grant, Chelsea Demel, Alexandra Clontz, Amanda Lee, Andromeda Love, Tiffany Lyle, Priyanka Mehta, Caroline Newman, Monica Russell, Rebecca Schlicher, and Matthew Stokes. Thanks, everyone.

And, as always, special thanks to Jean and Erin, beacons in my life.

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Illustration 1 Tom Stoppard

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