Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Arcadia” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


4.2 of 5 stars 4.20  ·  rating details  ·  12,992 ratings  ·  567 reviews
Arcadia takes us back and forth between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, ranging over the nature of truth and time, the difference between the Classical and the Romantic temperament, and the disruptive influence of sex on our orbits in life. Focusing on the mysteries--romantic, scientific, literary--that engage the minds and hearts of characters whose passions and l ...more
Paperback, 112 pages
Published September 24th 1994 by Faber & Faber (first published 1993)
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 Arcadia, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Arcadia

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. RowlingThe Giving Tree by Shel SilversteinQuidditch Through the Ages by J.K. RowlingThe Hobbit by J.R.R. TolkienThe Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Greenest Books Ever
12th out of 1,317 books — 429 voters
Hamlet by William ShakespeareMacbeth by William ShakespeareThe Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar WildeRomeo and Juliet by William ShakespeareA Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
Best Plays Ever
35th out of 569 books — 737 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
This weekend I was looking at my almost seven year old daughter and marveling at how quickly she’s grown up. I thought: she’s still so young and she’s still so new. But then I thought: no, she’s not. Not really. The atoms and molecules that make up her body are actually billions of years old. Inside, she carries pieces of what are now distant stars. She carries pieces of the original humans. She carries pieces of me. She carries pieces of her children. And yet, there has never been and there wil ...more
Apr 29, 2015 Anne rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Anne by: Sarah Foree
The only play I've ever read that made me want to be an actor, however briefly--just for long enough to speak some of Stoppard's incredible lines. Witty, erudite, passionate, petty, catty, dry, elegant or vile, there's not a character who doesn't get off a zinger at least once per appearance, and usually oftener. Lady Croome alone barely walks into a room without puncturing egos left, right and center. Encountering a scene of midnight shenanigans in her country house, she tells the perps they're ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Enough people love this play that it presumably has some good qualities. But I just couldn't get past the snide, obnoxious characters, and the facile, frequently inaccurate treatment of science and math, which panders to the "science is just the product of fallible human impulses and, like, we don't really know anything for sure anyway, man" attitude that has become the norm among intellectuals and wannabe intellectuals who, for one reason or another, aren't interested in science.

As a presentati
I first encountered this play my freshman year of college, and here I am in my final semester, reading it once more. If you have read this play yourself, you might see the beauty and significance in that duality. Nevertheless, I adore this play so, so much. Tom Stoppard is a complete genuis.

The play follows two time periods, the early 1800's and a contemporary setting, both in the same exact location, an English manor house. In the 1800's we observe Thomasina, a 13 year old intellectual, and her
Philosophy vs science progress. What is more important to mankind? What makes us happy? The play Arcadia (1993) is complex. Stoppard explores many different themes and contrasts such as past and present, and order and disorder. They melt together and show that everything is connected.

The play is set in a country house, Sidley Park, in Derbyshire, and follows the lives of people living there in the 1800's and present day. This is a rich play with more questions than answers. It involves philosoph
I would like to make it clear, right out front, that I adore some of Tom Stoppard's work. But this is insufferable, elitist piffle. The fact that it is so highly praised in so many circles confirms, to my mind, that the arts, like the rest of our culture, are utterly degenerate.

Kurt Vonnegut once described the job of a writer as being "a good date." With "Arcadia," Stoppard wears too much cologne, won't stop talking about himself, blows smoke in our face, farts in the elevator, and seems to thin
I should have liked this more than I did, truly. I mean, I get that this is a play about how one goes about mapping emotional and physical complexity onto intellectual models and how it breaks down and breaks apart, in the same way that Romanticism signalled the end of the Enlightenment, or how the two had trouble coexisting in the same garden. (But they can be united! By fractals! And sex!)

My problems were thus:
1) I didn't like any of the characters. They were all so self-impressed, self-pleasi
My favorite play by Tom Stoppard, who’s often been referred to as one of the cleverest and most literate minds currently writing for the stage – or anywhere else, for that matter. His work is unfailingly intellectual in the best sense of the word, alive with the energy of a naturally brilliant and inquisitive mind constantly in motion: gleefully absorbing new information, delighting in the juxtaposition of unlikely ideas (philosophy and gymnastics, for example) and forever doubling back to chall ...more
I listened to the audio version of this in the car and just loved it. It was a full ensemble, made easy by the fact that it's a play, so everything is spoken anyway. It's so clever, and keeps you on your toes trying to figure out the relationships and what's going on. It was sometimes a little tough to figure out the voices and who was speaking, but I'm pretty sure I got most of it.

The words and ideas in this are just so beautiful. It's a story about science concepts and historical dialogue, and
Arcadia is a fatalistic farce, a comedy about the consequences of taking poetry and science seriously. It juxtaposes scenes from two different time periods, early 19th century and present day England. The scene is a Derbyshire country house. One time period is trying to predict the future the other trying to reconstruct the past.

In 1809 Septimus Hodge the tutor of Thomasina is helping her to make mathematical discoveries, Septimus has been discovered in a compromised position with the poet Ezra
Mar 25, 2011 Meg rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: drama
I read this first in a college course called The Scientist on Stage, which was a really wonderful class, definitely one of my desert island favorites. It was a version of the class Patton Oswalt describes in his "Physics for Poets" bit: we, the liberal arts students, learned big science concepts by reading plays that featured science and scientists. The class was taught by a quantum physicist who was clearly delighted by everything he got to teach us. He gave us concepts like they were stories, ...more
Evanston Public  Library
Stoppard's wit and craftsmanship infuse every line. This is an absorbing exploration of the differences between the Romantic and Classical temperaments--between feeling and thought--as well as an investigation into the connections between science and literature, all shaken and linked by the unifying disruption of sex. It's a tour-de-force that requires your share of creative work, but also makes you laugh out loud. (Jeff B., Reader's Services)
Hmmm... lots to think about in this two act play! Despite Stoppard's wonderful touch with the one-line quips and ripostes, this play isn't really a comedy. Within the humor there are some serious ideas regarding how academics interprete artifacts to construct a version of the past and whether the world/universe is determinate or chaotic.

I would love to see a production of this!
So close and yet so far. This had a lot of the ingredients that should have produced an awe-inspiring flourless chocolate cake of a play, but it just didn't come together for me. I enjoy plays that are able to play with historical characters and ideas and connect them to bigger themes, I enjoy the play of contrasting (or apparently contrasting) ideas like poetry and science, Romanticism and Enlightenment,etc especially when the author is able to complicate the black and white into gray and I enj ...more
I LOVE THIS PLAY!!!!!!!!!!! Setting aside musicals (where Les Mis has my heart forever and ever), this is my absolute favorite play.

I saw this first, during the current (2011) revival in New York City. I go back and forth whether it was better to see it or read it first, but I think I liked seeing it first. I got to witness it brought to life and glimpsed the big picture before going back and reading the lines and seeing what I missed.

Everything takes place in the same room in the same house in
Dara Salley
Tom Stoppard and math! It sounds like a marriage made in heaven. Stoppard is excellent at taking obscure ideas, relating them to the meaning of life and then somehow turning them into a dramatic scenario. He throws so many facts and concepts at the reader that at times it felt like I was holding on for dear life. I tried my best to keep up but I may have to read this play a few more times to rehash some of the deeper philosophical ideas. Luckily it’s a pretty short read.

I have to say this was no
my first introduction to stoppard, it remains my favorite. what can i say? any play that starts with a discussion of what "carnal embrace" means has won my heart.

this was the first play i had read in a long time that was so . . . intellectual, that trusted so much of its audience. there is no pandering to a "common intelligence" - as a viewer, as a reader, we are expected to be like thomasina - studious, learning, not knowing everything, but being a bright bubble. (of course, she was on a diffe
A guy I was dating took me to see this. As we huddled together in the tiny, cramped, cheap seats, I knew what it was like to feel cared for. Literature isn't always about the text. Sometimes it's about the moments it creates and the memories entwined with reading it. I already know this'll be a 5, even without reading it, because well I care deeply for him and sometimes I wish I could give him a hug.
This play was incredibly boring. Again, I'm sure I was rather lost with it because I didn't understand it as well as I should. It seemed like there were a lot of "academic" references that I couldn't follow, and I didn't care enough to take the time to look them up. I didn't care about any of the characters (although it seemed Septimus was witty enough) and I sure didn't care about the plot (whatever that was...something about researching whether Byron really has ever been in that city and if Ch ...more
"All over the place" is the most fitting description I can think of after reading Tom Stoppard's Arcadia. It isn't inherently bad or uninteresting, sometimes even genuinely funny, but overall I felt like wasting my oh-so precious time.

Though I am actually interested in seeing the actual play, since Stoppard used some really interesting directions for the staging and the interplay of both timelimes. Especially the last scene with the timelines seemingly colliding or rather playing parallel side b
I wondered how the reviews of this as a "brilliant, brilliant play" "a masterpiece" a play of "consummate theatricality, of sophisticated entertainment and or heartache for a time never to be regained" could possibly be true.

But just reading it has been a complete pleasure, let alone seeing it performed on stage. It's clever, witty and economic, switching back and forth between centuries forever contrasting the classic against the romantic, involving science, maths, theoretical physics and litte
Reviewing this play is both trivial as well as impossible for me.
If you venture to Arcadia's Wiki page you'll find right at the top:
it (Arcadia) has been cited by many critics as the finest play from one of the most significant contemporary playwrights in the English language.

, summing up the unquestionable brilliance of the play. I was blown away by the successful attempt by Stoppard to intertwine many highly complex topics (view spoiler)
Jenny (Reading Envy)
It has been too long, I need to read it again.

“Septimus: When we have found all the mysteries and lost all the meaning, we will be all alone, on an empty shore.

Thomasina: Then we will dance....”
Oct 24, 2009 Sue added it
Stoppard again weaves philosophy, science, history and literature into a drama. Although the play is really about the second law of thermodynamics (which says that the universe is gradually becoming more, not less, diffuse and chaotic), we get a merry dose of literature (Byron). There is an oblique nod to Lady Ada Lovelace, Byron's daughter, who worked with mathematician Charles Babbage in developing the theory of the programmable computer. That nod is manifest as the budding genius Thomasina, w ...more
May 28, 2008 Libby rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Skeptics, Scholars, and Lovers
Few playwrights rival Tom Stoppard for intellectual playfulness, from his existential comedy based on on two minor characters from Hamlet (1966's "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead") to a dadaist historical farce based on a expatriate production of Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest " (1974's "Travesties"). As delightful as these early plays are, they are sometimes faulted for being slight, as all dash and no substance. No such criticism may be leveled at Stoppard's dizzyingly brillian ...more
Considering I was very against reading this at all, I quite enjoyed it.

Arcadia has an incredibly interesting concept: two interconnected plots going on at the same time, with over 100 years in time between the two. One is the story of the residents of Sidley Park in 1809, the other the story of the residents in about the 1990s. The modern residents are researchers studying the 1809 residents, who seem to have a fascinating history after the part of their story the readers see.

The characters are
Karen Powell
Two time periods 180 years apart are spliced together to share one stage and several props. In an aristorcratic household in the early 19th century, teenager Thomasina is on the cusp of a great mathematical discovery well before her time as her witty and amorous tutor Septimus fends off (true) charges of adultury with failed poet Mr. Chater's wife Charity. In the late 20th century, two scholars descend upon the same house in the quest for answers to different questions. Bernard believes that Sep ...more
I think this was one of the earliest of the few plays which we have read as a group on CR over the years and I LOVED it -- I love reading plays and hadn't read any for a while -- this was a delightful return to the genre. And I knew what a ha-ha was when we got to Waterloo because of this play!

remarks by moi in the original CR discussion of this one:
The entire point is that we don't know. We don't know a
far, far greater amount than we do know.

Did I mention yet how much I loved reading this play
it’s…too much for me
far too much
I can’t —
there’s no comprehending that. Its intricacies! Oh, i’m sure the critics will critique the opinion to the death, but to me...the way everything comes together, falls apart, unites the fields while predicting, embodying the inevitable death...No, I'm not saying it's a perfect embodiment of academia, or that the notes of science are right...just...the intersection, the words themselves...they... vah—
I need to read it again, is what I need to
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Eclectic Readers: Arcadia 1 15 Aug 15, 2013 07:18PM  
Circle of Books: Who was Lord Byron? 2 9 Jul 03, 2012 09:29AM  
  • Copenhagen
  • The Pillowman
  • Translations
  • Cloud 9
  • The History Boys
  • The Clean House and Other Plays
  • All in the Timing
  • Assassins
  • Red
  • The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?
  • 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 Homecoming
  • Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches
  • Wit
  • Clybourne Park
  • Three Plays: Gruesome Playground Injuries / Animals Out of Paper / Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo
  • Picasso at the Lapin Agile and Other Plays
Sir Tom Stoppard OM, CBE, FRSL, is a British screenwriter and playwright.
More about Tom Stoppard...
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead The Real Thing: A Play Travesties The Invention of Love The Real Inspector Hound and Other Plays

Share This Book

“It is a defect of God's humor that he directs our hearts everywhere but to those who have a right to them.” 541 likes
“We shed as we pick up, like travellers who must carry everything in their arms, and what we let fall will be picked up by those behind. The procession is very long and life is very short. We die on the march. But there is nothing outside the march so nothing can be lost to it. The missing plays of Sophocles will turn up piece by piece, or be written again in another language. Ancient cures for diseases will reveal themselves once more. Mathematical discoveries glimpsed and lost to view will have their time again. You do not suppose, my lady, that if all of Archimedes had been hiding in the great library of Alexandria, we would be at a loss for a corkscrew?” 78 likes
More quotes…