stephanie's Reviews > Arcadia

Arcadia by Tom Stoppard
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Jun 16, 07

bookshelves: classics, drama, history-memory, would-rec, high-school-reading, absolutely-must-read
Read in October, 1999

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 different level, but i'd argue stoppard is on the same level in literature that she'd later acheive in math.)

i suppose what it reminded me of was the modernists. there is play with time, and language and staging, there is the sense that nothing is real at the same time that everything is real, and there is also the aspect of mastery that i so often miss. you don't doubt for a second you are in the hands of someone who knows what he is doing. and so you are willing to see where he takes you, you are willing to watch the mystery unravel. it also reminds me of poetry, of marie ponsot saying, "you have to make each word work" - i think stoppard does that. i think he chooses every word carefully and with purpose, and that's what makes it so brilliant on so many levels.

(we also read this right before reading woolf, so it was interesting to compare the use of the name "septimus" and see if we thought stoppard was making even more allusions. that's the thing about stoppard, it's all over, anything's possible, the man knows all.)
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