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Arcadia

4.19  ·  Rating Details  ·  14,488 Ratings  ·  638 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)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Catie
Sep 27, 2012 Catie rated it it was amazing
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
Kelly
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jonfaith
Nov 28, 2015 Jonfaith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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?

Stellar writing, just a spot under-fed. I would've appreciated more bulk, more fury -- some Sturm und Drang . Alas a two-tiered production featuring landed aristocracy, precocious children and the ribald aura of Lord Byron. Ruminating over these historical effects almost 200
...more
Anne
Apr 29, 2015 Anne rated it it was amazing
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
Nostalgebraist
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
...more
Maxwell
Feb 08, 2015 Maxwell rated it it was amazing
Shelves: i-own-it, drama, 2015
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
...more
Paul
Nov 25, 2015 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is another wonderful play by Stoppard. This story takes place in two separate time periods, many decades distant from each other, and the events in the earlier period are being studied and referenced by the characters in the latter.

The play captures the often violent dance of art and science, beautifully arranged in waltz time. It delves into chaos theory and questions how much our knowledge is limited by the time we have and the speed at which we can process information. It asks the questi
...more
Linda
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
...more
John
May 24, 2012 John rated it it was ok
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
...more
Amber
Dec 30, 2011 Amber rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-adult
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
...more
Margaret
May 20, 2009 Margaret rated it it was amazing
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
Liam
Apr 24, 2016 Liam rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really don't know how to feel about this because I honestly did really like some parts but the rest just felt super weird and made no sense to me.
Maree
Jun 25, 2015 Maree rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
...more
Nick
Apr 28, 2016 Nick rated it it was ok
The minority report once more, alas. Although reading a play, rather than seeing it in a theater (especially with the quality of actor and actress that Tom Stoppard's work usually brings onstage), is like judging food made with only half the ingredients of the recipe. This is a work half-set in an England about to begin its Regency period, with lots of nineteenth romantic bravura--precocious and doomed genius, trysts in the gazebo, sailing to gather specimens, and dueling, into which Lord Byron ...more
J.
Sep 26, 2013 J. rated it liked it
Shelves: plays, fiction
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
...more
Meg
Mar 25, 2011 Meg rated it it was amazing
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
Elle
Mar 12, 2016 Elle rated it really liked it
I'm not typically a large fan of plays, but this is written quite excellently. It reads as easily as a novel and had my attention. There are many smart references to literature, history, and the arts. This will easily be one I read again...definitely a novelty for me when it comes to plays.
Sookie
Apr 17, 2016 Sookie rated it liked it
Shelves: plays, 2016
Many have a book that make them want to bury it under a mountain of newspapers and hug it at the same time. Arcadia came very close to that for me. This play made me want to tear my hair out at erroneous historical representation of science and at the same time made me giggle at the obnoxiousness of (some of) the characters.

I have struggled with Stoppard's writing before. I believe his writing is poignant and does a systemic throwbacks at different literature and artists like a ginormous inside
...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)
Leslie
Dec 28, 2013 Leslie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays
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!
K.m.
Jul 17, 2014 K.m. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays
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
Roger Brunyate
Apr 26, 2016 Roger Brunyate rated it it was amazing
The Waltz of Time

Reading Iain Pears' brilliant novel Arcadia just now, I wondered how it might have been influenced by Tom Stoppard's 1993 play of the same title, which has been described [in the article I shall cite below] as "maybe the greatest play of our age." Answer: very much, and yet hardly at all. Stoppard casts his play of ideas as a drawing-room comedy—or rather two comedies alternating in the same room, the one beginning in 1809, the other in 1990. Pears infuses his ideas into a mel
...more
Bonnie
Apr 13, 2011 Bonnie rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Dara Salley
Aug 06, 2012 Dara Salley rated it liked it
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
...more
stephanie
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
...more
Amber
Apr 28, 2015 Amber rated it it was amazing
Shelves:
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.
Janh55
Jun 07, 2010 Janh55 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Jens
Mar 20, 2014 Jens rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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)
...more
Amanda
Jun 07, 2016 Amanda rated it really liked it
Shelves: drama
Well. Tom Stoppard is more than brilliant. I've had this one since last summer, too, and took it up the last week of school when grading stopped. I would pay good money to see this staged well. Great characters, great pacing, and that meta-mixture of stories building on each other that is my favorite thing in the world. I love how Byron haunts the play and how he really, truly doesn't matter that much, despite his fame and notoriety. I love Thomasina's cheerful genius and Septimus' arrogant and ...more
Roya
Dec 28, 2014 Roya rated it it was amazing
I wish it was longer. I missed my bus today because I was reading it, frowning that ten years from now I would probably understand only half of what the 13-year-old Thomasina is talking about. Well, maybe not even then. Yet I love her. And I love Hannah. And I love Valentine. For God's sake, I even love that jackass Bernard guy. GOD I wish it was longer.
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2015 Reading Chal...: Arcadia, by Tom Stoppard 2 15 Oct 01, 2015 08:02PM  
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Circle of Books: Who was Lord Byron? 2 11 Jul 03, 2012 09:29AM  
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  • In the Next Room, or the vibrator play
  • The History Boys
  • Translations
  • The Pillowman
  • Cloud 9
  • 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
  • Red
  • August: Osage County
  • The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?
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  • Machinal
  • Betrayal
  • Picasso at the Lapin Agile and Other Plays
  • Oleanna
  • Assassins
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Sir Tom Stoppard OM, CBE, FRSL, is a British screenwriter and playwright.

Born Tomáš Straussler.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Stop...
More about Tom Stoppard...

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“It is a defect of God's humor that he directs our hearts everywhere but to those who have a right to them.” 555 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?” 92 likes
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