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Copenhagen

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  2,591 ratings  ·  166 reviews
The Tony Award—winning play that soars at the intersection of science and art, Copenhagen is an explosive re-imagining of the mysterious wartime meeting between two Nobel laureates to discuss the atomic bomb.

In 1941 the German physicist Werner Heisenberg made a clandestine trip to Copenhagen to see his Danish counterpart and friend Niels Bohr. Their work together on quantu
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Paperback, 144 pages
Published August 8th 2000 by Anchor (first published 1998)
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Community Reviews

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Manny
- So what did you think?

- I liked it! A lot of really interesting historical stuff about the Bohr/Heisenberg/Schrödinger triangle. And I just had no idea about Heisenberg's involvement in the Nazi nuclear project. Fascinating. Can't imagine how I missed reading about that earlier.

- Ah, come on George, surely you got more out of it than that?

- Well, okay, okay, it was technically pretty impressive too. The way he uses quantum mechanics as a sustained metaphor throughout. I didn't think he'd be a
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Edward
--Copenhagen

Postscript
Post-Postscript
notgettingenough
What a play. As I watched it I knew I had to see it again but wouldn't be able to as the season was booked out. As it was, the night we went our seats were on the stage. A peculiar experience.

Still, it meant I bought the book the next day. Gleefully grabbed by one of the people I went with before I could blink, so I hope that gives you an idea of how dense and yet magnetic this play is.



Laura
Jan 13, 2013 Laura rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Bettie, Carey
Drama on 3:
Benedict Cumberbatch, Greta Scacchi and Simon Russell Beale star in Michael Frayn's award-winning play about the controversial 1941 meeting between physicists Bohr and Heisenberg, part of a joint Radio 3 and Radio 4 series of three Michael Frayn dramas for radio - including new adaptations of his novels, 'Skios' and 'Headlong'.


Being a physicist myself, this dialog between Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg was widely discussed during my graduation studies.

For further information, please
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Milica Chotra
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. If you're interested in history of science and WW2, especially physics and atomic bomb, I can't recommend it highly enough. Of course, this is a work of fiction and Frayn knows nothing about quantum mechanics, but still... it's interesting, informative and cleverly written.
_________________________________

Why did Heisenberg go to Copenhagen in 1941?

The Idea. "The idea for Copenhagen came to me out of my interest in philosophy. It was when I read a remarkable book
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Pooriya
نمایشنامهای در مورد فیزیک اتمی و بمب اتم! نیلز بور و ورنر هایزنبرگ و مارگارت (همسر بور) مُردهاند و اکنون در عالم ارواح شاید در حال صحبت با هم هستند. درمورد آخرین ملاقات بور و هایزنبرگ در سال 1941 در کوپنهاگ. ملاقاتی که بر سر اشغال دانمارک (کشور بور) توسط آلمان (کشور هایزنبرگ) به تیرگی روابط دوستانه این دو فیزکدان میشود.
در کل نمایشنامه پر از فلشبکهای متعدد به سالها و ملاقاتهای مختلف است و توضیح کامل پیدایش بمب اتم و آزمایش آن چند ماه قبل از هیروشیما و بالاخره فاجعهی بزرگ هیروشیما. ترس متفقین از ا
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R
I'm kind of fascinated by the history of science, in particular by the lives of the various actors involved. You know, those whose significance in the grand scheme of things (as far as most are concerned) is exclusively defined by the work they have done. They were brilliant minds, lofty and untouchable to the likes of me. But above all they were human, with all the requisite failings and ambiguities, and when considered as such they become so much more fascinating -- which is why I picked up Co ...more
Connie  Kuntz
For Valentine's Day, Jesse gave me an uninterrupted hour to read Copenhagen and write the review. I'm running out of time, so this will be quick, which, coincidentally, is one of the major themes of the play. Anyway, here goes:

Copenhagen is a delightful play about physics. It is fun to think about and gratifying to imagine. I'm confident it would be an honor to stage this play and I am confident I would be thrilled to serve as the dramaturg on such a production. All that said, I (for once) have
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Mitchell Hahn-Branson
In 1941, German physicist Werner Heisenberg made a clandestine trip to have dinner with his friend, Danish physicist Niels Bohr, and his wife, Margrethe. They were two of the absolute best scientists in their field—this was the same Heisenberg who had formulated the Uncertainty Principle—and they had challenged each other to do some of their very best work. But Heisenberg was a patriotic German who was now working, probably with some reluctance, under the Nazis; Bohr, who was half-Jewish, would ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I wish this had come with stage directions, because it was difficult to understand some of the dialogue without knowing how they were interacting (or not) on stage. Interesting subject, first act was much better than the second, I thought the author was trying too hard to make quantum mechanics match the possibilities of what happened at Bohr's home.
Nicki
Feb 02, 2015 Nicki rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: tony
There are plenty of living room dramas in the world, so I certainly can't begrudge this play being something entirely different / but that also doesn't change the fact that 70% of this play felt like attending a quantum mechanics lecture. I couldn't help but picture Frayn poring over physics books and quantum theory papers, which is not something I really want to imagine when I'm reading/viewing a play. I actually actively hate when I can see a playwright in the writing of play, however unfair t ...more
Aaron
For a Tony Award winning work (Best Play, 2000) Copenhagen didn't really impress me. The story seemed interesting enough; there isn't much action, which is ok for a play, and the stakes are rather high. I was distracted early on, however, by the encumbering use of breaking the 4th wall. This is a useful device, but in the beginning of the play the action seemingly flits back and forth without warning. Those who regularly read plays would be easily confused by this random shifting, to say nothing ...more
Natalie
I really enjoyed this book. It's a play that is based on an event that occured in Copenhagen in 1941. It was a meeting between physicists Bohr and Heisenberg. Nobody knows exactly what was said or what transpired in that meeting. Bohr stormed away from whatever Heisenberg was trying to tell him and nobody knows exactly what Heisenberg was trying to say, or what Bohr thought he was saying.

Heisenberg insisted that he was telling Bohr that he had moral objections to building a bomb for Germany and
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Stephen
The play "Copenhagen" is all about theoretical nuclear physics and the fallibility of memory and human relationships. The author is Michael Frayn. Frayn wrote the wildly funny play "Noises Off" which is all about doors and sardines and actors in their underwear. In "Copenhagen" Frayn assembles the ghosts of Werner Heisenberg, Niels Bohr and Bohr's wife Margrethe to explore the question of why the two physicists met in Denmark in 1941. They were on opposite sides of the Second World War; Heisenbe ...more
Cassandra Kay Silva
Heisenbergs line sums this the essence of the work up brilliantly:

Complementarity, once again. I'm your enemy; I'm also your friend. I'm a danger to mankind; I'm also your guest. I'm a particle; I'm also a wave. We have one set of obligations to the world in general, and we have other sets, never to be reconciled to our fellow countrymen... All we can do is to look afterwards, and see what happened.

This is I feel the premise and emotion garnered from this work. I do not know if personally I wou
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Judine
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Steve Carroll
fantastic play about Heisenberg and Bohr's meeting after Germany has taken over Denmark and several views on what really happened. Heisenberg was the head of the German nuclear program during WWII and Bohr defected to America to work on the Manhattan project afterwards. Takes the physics seriously (more than "it's uncertain! GET IT?!") but also works as drama. Really enjoyed the postscript where the playwright delves into the research he did to write the play.
Sue
I listened to this short audio (a play) once before and then again today. I loved it!!! Some time ago, I listened to American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer and rated it highly. This was a good companion piece, although too short (because it was a play). The play reminded me of Einstein's Dreams, a book I have read several times, because the plot of the play illustrates the concepts the characters discussed.

Difficult to explain, but to anyone interested in the histo
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Bonnie
A fantastic stripped-down play that examines friendship, disagreement, and motive.
Kelley
Maybe I just know way more about nuclear physics and famous physicists (which is still not all that much) than readers of this play are supposed to, but this was really awful.
I think I could have written something more or less equivalent in about an hour's work.
I know the play has been critically acclaimed, but apparently, I'm missing the boat.
Casey
I'm sure this play is absolutely amazing and advanced in its explanation of a major moment in the history of physics, but since I know very little about physics in its most basic form, let alone as it applies to atomic bombs, most of this play went far over my head. I still found the discussions of morality and memory, as well as the theory that we cannot truly understand anything since our perceptions are limited, to be entirely fascinating. I just missed out on all of the other discussions on ...more
Chris
I picked up this audio play because it has Alfred Molina. It is very entertaining, heartbreaking, and sometimes funny play about the question of morality. You do not have to be a scientist or a mathematician to enjoy the play. The performances are well done.
Nooilforpacifists
The best play I've seen. After hearing the reviews from England, was fortunate enough to catch it at Broadway about a month after it first opened. And the screenplay includes an excellent 40-page non-fiction history of quantum mechanics and Heisenberg.
Hayley
Even though the Physics side got lost on me at times, I will borrower one reviewer's comment which sums up Heisenberg's line of the essence of the work brilliantly:

"Complementarity, once again. I'm your enemy; I'm also your friend. I'm a danger to mankind; I'm also your guest. I'm a particle; I'm also a wave. We have one set of obligations to the world in general, and we have other sets, never to be reconciled to our fellow countrymen... All we can do is to look afterwards, and see what happene
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masoud mahdavi
با تمام فشارهای زندگی، که گاهی آدم دوست دارد یکی بزند مغزش را پخش زمین کند تا دیگر در این دنیای کوفتی نباشد، اما من همچنان معتقدم زندگی یک شانس وسوسه انگیز است، که باید آنرا پاس داشت، امروز که "کپنهاگ" اثر مایکل فرین را خواندم، خوشحالم که هنوز زنده ام، و امیدوار به اینکه باز هم چیزهایی در این دنیا انتظار مرا میکشد که هنوز حتی اسمشان را هم نشنیده ام.
همین که آدم بفهمد موضوع نمایشنامه، شرحی انتزاعی از آخرین دیدار نیلز بور و ورنر هایزنبرگ دو فیزیکدان مشهور قرن بیستم در بحبوحه جنگ جهانیست، کافیست بر
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Willkie Tan
As lame as it sounds I think the thing I enjoyed the most was the post-script by such a skillful author. Directly understanding the authors purpose and defense of his own work in light of public criticism is a refreshing angle that we"re not often exposed to.

What I think the novel is really about is a search for historical truth in evidence-limited events such as the Heisenberg-Bohr relationship. I think the poignant conclusion by frayn after three "drafts" of the event is that we will always r
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Boni
In 1941, in Nazi-occupied Denmark, the German physicist, famous for his Uncertainty Principle, Werner Heisenberg did a controversial visit to the Danish giant of atomic physics, Neils Bohr and his wife Margrethe. The play makes suppositions on the object of the visit. Bohr and Heisenberg previously like father and son, now on opposite camps because of the war. The characters in the play are all represented as dead people. The ghosts of the three characters try to figure out what really happened ...more
Makomai
E i quanti stanno a guardare (sottotitolo: il dissenso di Copenaghen)

Una storia quantica. Non tanto nel senso che parla di quanti (se ne parla, ma si parla più di bomba atomica e di filosofia) ma piuttosto nel senso che applica al mondo macro (e al mondo storico) una versione della meccanica quantistica che sfiorando la teoria dei multiversi sembra escludere che il collasso quantico possa mai avvenire.

Alla base vi è un fatto storico mai del tutto chiarito: un incontro tra Heisenberg e Bohr a Cop
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Suhrob
I was never interested in scientist biographies or back stories. It is
the theories and experiments what counts, right? But it might come
with age...

This is a beautiful short play about the relationship of Bohr and
Heissenberg, their role in the second World War nuclear programs, the
role of uncertainty in physics and human relationships.

I found it beautifully written - it is a complicated topic and I
think Frayn tackled it very sensitively and well. The use of physics
metaphors felt to me sometime sl
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Renate
I don't usually read plays. In fact, I cannot recall reading any since high school. So the joy I got out of reading this one was a pleasant surprise.

Brilliant! Really impressive how Michael Frayn has taken an idea from theoretical physics and turned it into a philosophical play. The dialogue goes back and forth, twirls and flows and makes you think.

A got hold of a copy of this play after being captivated by a production of Democracy: A Play at The Old Vic in 2012. A play that had barely any acti
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Michael Frayn is an English playwright and novelist. He is best known as the author of the farce Noises Off and the dramas Copenhagen and Democracy. His novels, such as Towards the End of the Morning, Headlong and Spies, have also been critical and commercial successes, making him one of the handful of writers in the English language to succeed in both drama and prose fiction. His works often rais ...more
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Noises Off Spies Headlong Skios Towards the End of the Morning

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“Bohr: Heisenberg, I have to say - if people are to be measured strictly in terms of observable quantities...

Heisenberg: Then we should need a strange new quantum ethics.”
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“We have one set of obligations to the world in general, and we have other sets, never to be reconciled, to our fellow-country men, to our neighbors, to our friends, to our family to our children. We have to go through not two slits at the same time but twenty-two. All we can do is to look afterwards, and see what happened.” 2 likes
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