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Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  67,083 Ratings  ·  1,436 Reviews
Hamlet told from the worm's-eye view of two minor characters, bewildered Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Echoes of Waiting for Godot resound, reality and illusion mix, and where fate leads heroes to a tragic but inevitable end.
Paperback, 126 pages
Published January 21st 1994 by Grove Press (first published 1966)
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Peasant 1: Did you hear? Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead?

Peasant 2: Really dead?

Peasant 1: Really dead.

Peasant 2: Really?

Peasant 1: Really, really.

Peasant 2: Really, really, really?

Peasant 1: Really, really, really.

Peasant 2: Really, really, really, really?

Peasant 1: Would you stop that? They're dead as dead can be - which is actually pretty dead.

Peasant 2: Pretty dead indeed.

Peasant 1: But they're not the pretty dead.

Peasant 2: Fe
Aug 09, 2013 Kim rated it it was amazing

I first read this play either at school or at university - at any event, so long ago that I can no longer remember when - and it made me a fan of Tom Stoppard's work. Since that time I've seen productions of a number of his plays, including Arcadia (one of all time favourite pieces of theatre), Travesties and Rock 'n' Roll. However, until last night I'd not seen a production of this play, which kickstarted Stoppard's career as a playwright when it was staged at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1
Aug 06, 2008 Annalisa rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoyed Hamlet
Shelves: movies, plays, humor, literary
I watched this movie years ago and thought it was hilarious so I thought I'd check out the play that inspired the film. It's the ramblings of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern while Hamlet goes unnoticed, or at least misunderstood, by them in the background. In far over their heads, both in thematic prose and plot progression, what makes this play so hilarious is the irony. One of the few times irony can truly be claimed: the reader is aware of a humor lost on the characters when we have the foreknow ...more
May 29, 2007 Kelly rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone, though especially lovers of Shakespeare. Or snark. That works as well.
Brilliant. It's fitting to choose the British designation for how wonderful I think this play is, I believe. This play manages to be absolutely stand on its own hilarious, as well as a thoughtful meditation on many issues at the same time. It pushes neither on the viewer/reader on its own, nor predominantly. The satire is executed near flawlessly, and the comedic sensitivity (even in the saddest moments of the farce) could not be more on target. I very much usually wish to have some criticism to ...more
Liz Janet
May 28, 2016 Liz Janet rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
An absurdest play with two idiot main characters and one of the most profound quotes of all time “We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that once our eyes watered.”
Riku Sayuj
Jun 02, 2012 Riku Sayuj rated it it was amazing
Probably the profoundest of all modern plays that I have read... pondering if I can manage to write a review that will do it justice.
Jul 20, 2011 Kim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cultured

After many a viewing of Tom Stoppard’s film adaption of his play “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” (many… many… viewings… I mean, c’mon… Tim Roth and Gary Oldman circa 1990? uh… yeah!) I thought that it might make a nice, light, summer read. Right. I should have just picked up the new James Patterson.

I’m not complaining… no way no how. This play is awesome. Ros and Guil, Guil and Ros… they are two parts of one big bumbling(?), bewitching oaf. I just want to hug them and ruffle their hair
Feb 09, 2008 Matthew rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who like wordplay/puns, philosophy or theatre buffs.
"We do onstage the things that are suppose to happen off. Which is a kind of integrity, if you look on every exit being an entrance somewhere else."

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead can be seen as Stoppard's answer to the question what are the minor characters of the play Hamlet doing while the tragic prince is agonizing and plotting? Stoppard's simple answer is "nothing".

R and G spend there time playing word games, musing on the nature of death and fate, and try--desperately and futilely--t
Jun 03, 2012 Liz rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are dead......then why write a 93 page play about them? I get it, it was the 60's people were high and found most things intellectually amusing, witty and necessarily redundant in an avante-garde sort of way. But seriously why? I found the play dragged and it didnt make me laugh.

My advice only read this book if you are a hipster as it is much easier to roll a copy of this up and cram into the back pocket of your skinny jeans than a copy of A Confederacy of Dunces.
Aug 20, 2015 Lexie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I never feel fully qualified to review books of this caliber with any hope to encompass everything they stand for. But Rosencrantz and Guildenstern is approachable and easy and terribly difficult to spell, as far as a book can be classified as approachable. And I feel like saying a few words on it won't result in a lynch mob.

When we are taught to look at a known scene with fresh eyes / from a fresh perspective in Creative Writing classes, it's commonplace to immediately leap to inanimate objects
Mar 31, 2016 Sookie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: plays, 2016
The best way to go about this book is by going blind. The surprise that arrives in terms of characters introduced in the second act is enough to put bring out the giggle fest.

Narrated by two characters from the play Hamlet, the story isn't much of a story but the existential crisis the two of them (and some!) face. They spend time playing games: tossing coin to word games and watching a "performance" to being part of a "performance". The two "Ros" and "Guil" explore the themes Shakespeare himse
Autumn Christian
Nov 21, 2015 Autumn Christian rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary
“Actors! The mechanics of cheap melodrama! That isn't death! You scream and choke and sink to your knees but it doesn't bring death home to anyone- it doesn't catch them unawares and start the whisper in their skulls that says- 'One day you are going to die.”

I didn't know anything about Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead going in (Except having read Hamlet several times, and having the excellent recommendation from a friend) so what I believe this book is about and what it's intention may be
Sep 24, 2008 Jeeyun rated it it was amazing
This re-read could not have come at a better time deep in the midst of existential crisis #522. This is the clever tragicomic meta-play of two minor characters from Shakespeare's Hamlet. They are summoned, they bumble about, they play questions, they are entirely confounded by the hubbub surrounding the "much transformed" Prince of Denmark, and then they are sent to their feeble deaths as demanded by the grand scheme of the play. While the dialogue and physical antics of Rosencrantz, Guildenster ...more
Mar 08, 2015 Laura rated it really liked it
I fully believe that Hamlet is one of the most brilliant and powerful human stories ever written, and every time I read it I'm in absolute awe. I love what Stoppard does in this play, how brilliantly he plays with two unraveled threads of that story. I love that there are more questions than answers, but how it never feels pretentious, just earnest and poignant and both comic and profound. Like with Hamlet, there is a great deal of philosophical depth for those who wish to explore it, but it's j ...more
Debbie Zapata
Mar 14, 2015 Debbie Zapata rated it it was amazing
Shelves: saturday
My tummy hurts from laughing so much. Reading this play is even more fun if you have seen the movie version a dozen or so times and can have it running through your mind as you turn the pages of the book.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern have become my favorite characters in Hamlet because of this play. You just have to root for them, even when you know what their fate will be. They try so hard to understand what is happening but they can never quite grasp enough details for their lives to make sense
Apr 22, 2015 Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author has taken two unimportant [dare I say expendable?] characters from Hamlet, turned Hamlet on its head and made these two [Ros and Guil, as the author calls them] the main actors: more than a mere plot point as in the original. Also, the Player [leader of the travelling theatrical troupe of tragedians] is very important in moving the action [such as it is] along. Ros and Guil are clueless throughout: why have they been summoned to Denmark? What does the king want them to do? What and wh ...more
Apr 17, 2011 Bev rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Nobody
Shelves: drama
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, written by Tom Stoppard, was first performed in a shortened version in August 1966. When it opened in London in 1967, it catapulted Stoppard into the front ranks of modern playwrights. The plot is supposedly simple: the play of Hamlet seen not through the eyes of Hamlet or Claudius or Ophelia or Gertrude, but a worm's-eye view of the tragedy seen from the standpoint of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. The blurb on the back of book says that "it is very funny ...more
Anthony SanFilippo
Jul 23, 2007 Anthony SanFilippo rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Hamlet fans
Just a fantastic look at the world of Hamlet through the eyes of two minor characters from the play.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are a dynamic duo of characters. They are the Gilligan and Skipper, Abbot and Costello, Laurel and Hardy of literature.

Without giving too much away, the opening sequence of consecutive coin flips is hysterical, as is Rosencrantz's monologue about learning about death.

At the same time, it is so well written and introspective that it offers a real insight into the lives
Winter Sophia Rose
Oct 03, 2015 Winter Sophia Rose rated it it was amazing
Witty, Hilarious, Insightful & Intriguing! A Brilliant Play! I Loved It!
Dec 19, 2015 J.M. rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Theater geeks, Shakespeare freaks
December of Drama 2015, day eighteen

"There's definitely, definitely, definitely no logic
To human behaviour.
--Human Behaviour, by Bjork

This is obviously genius material, original "metatheatre" that still somehow reads like it always should have existed. Theater geeks may love it for the repackaging of Hamlet, presented from the viewpoint of two of the minor characters who are nevertheless killed off near the bloody finale, but it's also great for the absurdist and existentialist touches. I norma
Having read the play I am now totally enchanted by Rosencrantz and Guilderstern are Dead.

Rosecrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead follows two minor characters from "Hamlet" as all the action from that play sweeps around them. It is absurd, funny, sad and poignant by turns.

Sir Tom Stoppard is quite possibly the greatest playwright of the 20th Century.

I can't wait to watch the filmed version that I got from the library.
Absolutely my favourite play I think. Tom Stoppard's witty alternative version of Hamlet. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are the main characters, they aren't aware they are in a play but are trying to make sense of the continuous scene changes and unexpected turns of events. As they start to understand what is happening, they are still unable to alter the scripted events.
Aug 29, 2014 Lavinia rated it really liked it
Shelves: plays, in-en, 2011
Excellent. I cannot believe I gave up watching the film a while ago (especially since it featured one of my two favourite Tims in the world). I suspect watching a live performance would indeed be a 5 star experience.
I loved Stoppard's wit so much, I could quote him endlessly. And of course, discuss existentialism over a bottle of dry red.
Sep 26, 2016 "Neda" rated it really liked it
اسم هاى ما را در يك سپيده دم فرياد زدند...يك پيام...يك احضار...بايد لحظه اى بوده باشد در آغاز ، جايى كه ما مى توانستيم بگوييم ، نه
تام استوپارد
Nov 15, 2010 Valetta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Commedia dell'assurdo in cui due personaggi minori dell'Amleto di Shakespeare, Rosencrantz e Guilderstein appunto, assurgono al ruolo di protagonisti in un opera che è contemporaneamente commedia e dramma esistenzialista. All'inizio dell'opera Rosencrantz e Guilderstein si ritrovano in viaggio verso la corte di Danimarca, impegnati in una partita di "testa o croce" che sembra non avere inizio nè fine. Da quanto tempo giocano? Perchè sono in viaggio? Chi li ha convocati e perchè non hanno ricordo ...more
Mar 09, 2011 Jeremy added it
Shelves: play-drama
Hey kids look, characters questioning the nature of their createdness! This really does wear its postmodernism on it's sleeve. I remember being impressed as hell when I read Arcadia years ago, Stoppard was just so damn erudite and witty. But this is more in the style of Beckett's stage work, the absurd, almost clownish dialogue and the little tableaux that reoccur over and over again, and all of it masking something desperate and chilling. But Stoppard seems too passionate, or maybe just too per ...more
Jun 17, 2016 Jill rated it really liked it
Shelves: lit-degree
background characters.

you don't think about them much.
(unless you're a harry potter fan i guess)

but they're seething.

they have their own stories.
they have their own explorations, philosophies, existential breaks.
all this goes unnoticed.

but worse! but more importantly! ----
because who cares about the thoughts of a background character, come on come the fuck on come ON ----
they have their own perspective on the real story

and it is not what you expect.
and you have no idea.
no idea.
Jul 14, 2012 Iman rated it it was amazing
This is a genius play of the behind the scenes of Shakespeare's play Hamlet. The plot follows two minor characters, Rosencrantz and Guildensertn, as they engage with the main characters of the play. From the first page to the last, Stoppard offers us new perspective to one of the most read plays in the world. What I enjoyed the most is the sophisticated dialogue and the subtle humour that permeates throughout the play. While Stoppard remains true to the original, he adds a new dimension to other ...more
Dec 26, 2007 Krystal rated it liked it
Shelves: school-reading
This was actually an interesting parody of Hamlet because it told the story from a completely different view. Yes, it made fun of some of the finer points in Hamlet but it was also completely random at the same time. The play is heavy in its existentialism and that was annoying at some parts but overlooking that, it actually was an enjoyable read that makes you laugh quite a bit at the utter ridiculosity of the characters.
Mar 08, 2012 Patricia rated it liked it
When I was in high school, a friend of a friend was cast in a local production of this play. I remember being enchanted by the title, even if I had no idea who Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were. I seemed to have missed out on Hamlet in English class somehow. But the play's title has delighted me for years. It's not the best read aloud, due to it's absurdist plot, but I'm happy to connect title to plot and I wouldn't mind seeing a production of it, should one appear.
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Sir Tom Stoppard OM, CBE, FRSL, is a British screenwriter and playwright.

Born Tomáš Straussler.

More about Tom Stoppard...

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“We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that once our eyes watered.” 839 likes
“Look on every exit as being an entrance somewhere else.” 353 likes
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