Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” as Want to Read:
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

by
4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  52,762 ratings  ·  1,063 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)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

1984 by George OrwellThe Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienThe Catcher in the Rye by J.D. SalingerTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Best Books of the 20th Century
229th out of 5,863 books — 39,169 voters
Hamlet by William ShakespeareThe Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar WildeMacbeth by William ShakespeareRomeo and Juliet by William ShakespeareA Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
Best Plays Ever
13th out of 512 books — 659 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Jonathan
-----------------------------------------------------------

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
...more
Kim

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
...more
Annalisa
Aug 06, 2008 Annalisa rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoyed Hamlet
Shelves: movies, plays, literary, humor
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
Kelly
May 29, 2007 Kelly rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Matthew
Feb 09, 2008 Matthew rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
...more
Riku Sayuj
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.
Kim


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
...more
Christopher
My brain is a bad actor.

I know it's a bad actor because I read this play and the performance it gave totally fell flat. It messed up all the punchlines. Often it had to go back to read parts that it misread. It even got bored during the middle part and totally phoned in the performance of the first half of the third act. It totally ruined this play for me with its terrible one-note performance. Stupid, stupid brain.

Luckily for me, Tom Stoppard directed a moving pictures version of his play, star
...more
Liz
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.
Jeeyun
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
Jane
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
Anthony SanFilippo
Jul 23, 2007 Anthony SanFilippo rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
...more
Bev Hankins
Apr 17, 2011 Bev Hankins rated it 1 of 5 stars
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
Margaret
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.
James
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.
Valetta
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
Kathryn
I’ve been wanting to read Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead ever since I first heard of it, in one of the many retellings of Tam Lin that were all the rage a few years back. Someone mentioned it on another site recently, and I figured I might as well finally order it from Amazon.

For those who don’t know, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are two minor players in Hamlet. They have a couple scenes here and there; they’re mostly little toadies who are trying to help the King against Hamlet. The titl
...more
Leigh
ROS: I remember when there were no questions.
GUIL: There were always questions. To exchange one set for another is no great matter.
ROS: Answers, yes. There were answers to everything.
GUIL: You've forgotten.
ROS (flaring): I haven't forgotten--how I used to remember my own
name--and yours, oh,
yes! There were answers everywhere you looked. There was no question about it--people knew who I was and if they didn't they asked and I told them.
GUIL: You did, the trouble is, each of them is . . . plausibl
...more
Jeremy
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
Iman
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
Patricia
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.
Krystal
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.
Lavinia
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.
David Stephens
I had long assumed that if Shakespeare's Hamlet had incorporated Rosencrantz and Guildenstern into more of the story, they would have been lovable dolts. Even with some serious flaws, this is how Stoppard basically presents them. Guildenstern, the more domineering of the two, spends much of his time overanalyzing every event while Rosencrantz, the ostensible bungler, is at least able to enjoy himself part of the time. Together, they form a comedy troupe that accidentally raises questions beyond ...more
Mike
Jun 11, 2012 Mike rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Mike by: Sadeem
Shelves: plays, favorites, comedy
Effortlessly brilliant and hilarious. Equal to any of Beckett's stuff, I think.
Katrina
The best piece of metafiction ever.
Cassy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ken Moten
Sep 09, 2012 Ken Moten rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who read Hamlet, Shakespeare fans, people who go to plays in general(?)
It's Sunday and i have things to do so I am gonna procrastinate on those chores and review this play which I have procrastinated on reviewing.

This play is a not so much behind the scenes look into the world of The Prince of Denmark but a beside the scenes look. The two main characters (of this play) are not simply faceless generic plot devices but are our guide and almost Greek chorus into this world that we (presumably are familiar with and) are in. The examination of the world and how it work
...more
Stacie Nishimoto
ROS: They had it in for us, didn't they? Right from the beginning. Who'd have thought that we were so important?
GUIL: But why? Was it all for this? Who are we that so much should converge on our little deaths? (In anguish to the PLAYER:) Who are we?
PLAYER: You are Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. That's enough.

[Rhetorical. game. non-sequitur. set. statement. match:]

note:
dredged up a 1990 film version directed by Tom Stoppard starring Gary Oldman (Rosencrantz), Tim Roth (Guildenstern), and Richard
...more
Adam
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Shakespeare Fans: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead 2 11 Aug 11, 2014 12:56PM  
Does life and our ability to make choices matter since we all die anyways? 1 8 Jun 24, 2014 04:06PM  
Rosencrantz and guildenstern are dead 6 41 Nov 22, 2013 11:44AM  
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern's idiocy 4 48 Nov 28, 2012 03:21AM  
  • All in the Timing
  • Copenhagen
  • The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade
  • The Pillowman
  • Endgame & Act Without Words
  • Proof
  • Betrayal
  • Oleanna
  • 'Art'
  • Topdog/Underdog
  • Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches
  • Complete Plays
  • The Riverside Shakespeare
  • The Bald Soprano and Other Plays
  • The Lady's Not for Burning
  • The History Boys
  • The Iceman Cometh
  • Assassins
293
Sir Tom Stoppard OM, CBE, FRSL, is a British screenwriter and playwright.
See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Stop...
More about Tom Stoppard...
Arcadia The Real Thing: A Play Travesties The Invention of Love The Real Inspector Hound and Other Plays

Share This Book

“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.” 472 likes
“Look on every exit as being an entrance somewhere else.” 255 likes
More quotes…