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4.19  ·  Rating details ·  19,051 ratings  ·  957 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, 97 pages
Published September 24th 1994 by Faber Faber (first published 1993)
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Average rating 4.19  · 
Rating details
 ·  19,051 ratings  ·  957 reviews

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Sep 24, 2012 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
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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
David Schaafsma
Jul 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Probably the most ambitious play (1993) from Tom Stoppard, taking place in one setting tacking back and forth between two centuries. The basic focus is on the relationship between science and art, between the rational and romantic, about chaos theory, and sex! It's erudite, drawing on scholarly sources from a variety of disciplines, and is also down to earth funny, with bad puns abounding. Women scientists and mathematicians take center stage in each period. I have never seen it performed, and I ...more
Roger Brunyate
Apr 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: plays
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 m
Feb 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: drama, owned
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
Elle (ellexamines)
Tom Stoppard does it again. What 'it' is, is a different question.

Within this play, love and intellectualism work in opposition. It is in essence a play about how we may know everything there is to know but we cannot only know this: we must also know what it is to love. We can predict the future, Stoppard believes; except, of course, for irregularities, like sex. The play focuses a lot on sex in this regard, to the point where questionable choices are made. (Pairing a 17-year-old with her 25-yea

(See full sized image here)

THOMASINA: Septimus, what is carnal embrace?
SEPTIMUS: Carnal embrace is the practice of throwing one's arms around a side of beef.

God, I wish I'd written this.

Science and literature are not exclusive; they are, in many ways, compatible. Arcadia is an exhilarating study of how lives across time intersect on scientific, literary and romantic planes - and how it's all destined to dissolve into chaos, converging in a travesty. It is a play of breathtaking scope, structure
Apr 16, 2008 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
Nov 18, 2015 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
Feb 22, 2009 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
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
Paul E. Morph
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
Sep 19, 2011 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
Jul 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: plays, in-en, 2019
What a brilliant play! Would love to see it on stage.
May 19, 2012 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
From TIA:
BBCR4 - Saturday Play 2007

Arcadia: Tom Stoppard's acclaimed comedy about the lives and preoccupations of the inhabitants of Sidley Park, Derbyshire in the early 19th and late 20th centuries.

BBC Radio 3

Broadcast: Sunday 26th December 1993

Tom Stoppard's "Arcadia" represents two time periods, the Romantic Era of the early 1800's and Modern time. He intertwines these periods and characters freely throughout the entire play, giving the audience a wonderful perspective on human perception and
Apr 28, 2016 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
Nov 09, 2013 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
BAM The Bibliomaniac
May 31, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: library, plays
I think the intricacies of this play are best enjoyed through performance not reading, especially the last acts when centuries cross. There were several laugh out loud lines I rather enjoyed. However, the plot lines of sexual interference, science and math theory, and Lord Byron were just too twisted within the time warp for me to keep straight. I'd much rather see this on stage. I think I'd highly praise its unique direction.
Apr 23, 2013 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
Oct 12, 2012 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!
Nov 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-reads
Brilliant. I'd had no idea. (I mean, I had an idea of Stoppard's genius, but why'd I wait so long to read this play?) Erudite and multi-leveled: Enlightenment rationality and science (chaos, Newtonian geometry, English gardens) against/with Romantic literature and art (Lord Byron, high emotion, beauty, sex, and wild nature). Indelible characterization. And so, so funny.
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, plays
Historical research, Newton’s laws of physics, romance... what’s not to love!? Stoppard outdid himself with Arcadia. Even outside a classroom setting, this play has high returns - even for a casual read.
Denise E.
Sep 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If they did this as a musical like Hamilton I bet it would be even more popular.
Francesca Forrest
Aug 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Listened to an audio version of this on the recommendation of Rachel Manija Brown and loved it. It explores ideas in mathematics and physics, and the play itself loops around in a recursive way, such that characters from the present echo those in the past; it pokes fun at academic research and fashion in literature and landscape gardening; and it manages to contain both great one-off quips and thought-provoking ruminations without either feeling forced. Thomasina, a thirteen-year-old with a gift ...more
Jul 11, 2014 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
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)
Paul Secor
If I were a theatre critic, the blurb they'd get from me would be "Clever, witty, and far beyond."

Listening while and in between reading it:
Schubert: String Quartets played by Quatuor Mosaiques
Janacek: String Quartets played by the Skampa Quartet
Hank Mobley: Messages
Mar 11, 2016 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.
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Sir Tom Stoppard OM, CBE, FRSL, is a British screenwriter and playwright.

Born Tomáš Straussler.


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