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Tom and TV

Anne Carson, 1 December 2016

... Out of the folds of the heavenly things I was dreaming of Tom Stoppard in a car saying do you want to come look at my etchings and I thought here at last is someone who will know how this drear phrase came to refer to close acts of humankind so I said what does that really mean do you think and he said sex and I awoke in tears because I suddenly remembered when my Dad died I had to pawn his TV, which I did for not enough money then after midnight I went out walking the streets of his small town and there it was Dad’s TV on a shelf in the shop in the dark with others ...

Splashed with Stars

Susannah Clapp: In Stoppardian Fashion, 16 December 2021

Tom StoppardA Life 
by Hermione Lee.
Faber, 977 pp., £14.99, September, 978 0 571 31444 7
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... Tom Stoppard wrote​  Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead while listening to ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ and ‘Like a Rolling Stone’. He would like to have written Michael Frayn’s Copenhagen. Threaded into each of his plays is a coded tribute: an MP in Dirty Linen, a clerk in The Invention of Love and two characters in Leopoldstadt are all called Chamberlain, doffing their caps to Stoppard’s long-term assistant, Jacky Chamberlain ...


Craig Raine, 4 June 2015

... I Tom Stoppard sold his house in France: ‘I was sick of spending so much time at Gatwick.’ II At the UK Border, I double and treble through the retractable queuing barrier. Now I have my passport splayed at the requisite page. She glances, she frowns, she turns it upside down so it can be read by a machine ...

Short Cuts

John Lanchester: Football and Currie, 17 October 2002

... 1991 may not have fundamentally altered the character of the sport – a quarter of a century ago, Tom Stoppard was making a character in his play Professional Foul complain about the ‘yob ethics’ of the game – but they have made it worse. The players are richer, greedier and nastier, and almost mystically free from any sense of wider perspectives ...

Short Cuts

Christopher Tayler: Costume Drama, 11 October 2012

... specialised in as Wyndham Lewis did in 1914: ‘What balls!’ So even given the participation of Tom Stoppard, Rebecca Hall and Benedict Cumberbatch, it was surprising to see a Ford adaptation given five hours on BBC2. Ford was last unloosed in this way in 1981, when Julian Mitchell adapted The Good Soldier for Granada Television. That film – starring ...

In the Company of Confreres

Terry Eagleton: ‘Modern British Fiction’, 12 December 2002

On Modern British Fiction 
edited by Zachary Leader.
Oxford, 328 pp., £14.99, October 2002, 0 19 924932 6
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... been the quickest route for expatriates like Wilde, Wittgenstein, Ernest Gellner, Isaiah Berlin or Tom Stoppard to become English. In doing so, they compensate for their outsider status by becoming honorary aristocrats, superior to the very middle classes who have marginalised them. In modern England, the patrician is an idiosyncratic, déclassé figure ...

Memories of Lindsay Anderson

Alan Bennett, 20 July 2000

... for instance, or rooting with a bent coat-hanger down a blocked sink) thoughts occur like ‘I bet Tom Stoppard doesn’t have to do this’ or ‘There is no doubt David Hare would have deputed this to an underling.’ So I was happy to read in Gavin Lambert’s Mainly about Lindsay Anderson* that Lindsay harboured similar thoughts about such ...

Talking More, Lassooing Less

Michael Rogin, 19 June 1997

American Original: A Life of Will Rogers 
by Ray Robinson.
Oxford, 288 pp., $30, January 1997, 0 19 508693 7
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... of his Depression-era movie State Fair, when ‘the American farmer is faced with ruin.’ Only Tom Stoppard could imagine Rogers meeting and liking Trotsky, not to mention the other way round. What might seem an encounter between American innocence and European revolution would actually have emerged from violence on the American side as well. Exactly ...

Nabokov’s Dreams

John Lanchester, 10 May 2018

... has changed over time: instead of writing it, I’d like someone else to write it: ideally, Tom Stoppard. Useful starting point for the stuck-lift conversation: Roger Glover, the band’s bassist, said that the title ‘Smoke on the Water’ came to him in a ...


Toby Forward: Being Rahila Khan, 4 February 1988

... themes from an Asian and English themes from a white person. To test it out, I wrote a story with Tom Dale. It was a country-house murder with a twist at the end. Very English. We sent it to the head of Morning Story to get a fresh opinion, but it landed on the same producer’s desk. To our surprise, she liked it, and it was broadcast. By now, it was getting ...

It wasn’t the Oval

Blake Morrison: Michael Frayn, 7 October 2010

My Father’s Fortune: A Life 
by Michael Frayn.
Faber, 255 pp., £16.99, September 2010, 978 0 571 27058 3
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... XI. Simon Gray, David Hare and Ronald Harwood are or were known to be keen on the game, too. And Tom Stoppard, another follower, has a striking set-piece in The Real Thing in which a playwright, explaining dramatic technique, says: ‘What we’re trying to do is to write cricket bats.’ If Tom Frayn had had his ...


C.K. Stead: A New Zealander in London, 18 October 1984

... the New Statesman was discontinued in 1983. It’s easy to see how it happens. In The Real Thing, Tom Stoppard turns some of his best verbal fire against the kind of cant and half-truth to which the Left is prone. The mistake he makes, or the play makes, it seems to me, is confusing the cant and the cause. His playwright hero defends brilliantly and ...

Long Runs

Adam Phillips: A.E. Housman, 18 June 1998

The Poems of A.E. Housman 
edited by Archie Burnett.
Oxford, 580 pp., £80, December 1997, 0 19 812322 1
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The Invention of Love 
by Tom Stoppard.
Faber, 106 pp., £6.99, October 1997, 0 571 19271 8
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... what a life devoted to accuracy is a life devoted to. This, inevitably, is more the province of Tom Stoppard’s often riveting play about Housman, The Invention of Love, than of Burnett’s scholarly edition of the poems. While Wilde, whom Stoppard uses as a foil for Housman, warned against falling into careless ...


Robert Irwin: The Best Thing since Sex, 2 December 1993

... Unlike cricket, it does not command literary partisans of the calibre of Harold Pinter and Tom Stoppard. Neither can it match swimming’s distinguished roll-call of writer-enthusiasts: Horace, Sidney, Marlowe, Byron, Arnold, Brooke, Gide, Scott Fitzgerald and, most recently, Charles Sprawson. It is true, of course, that Vladimir Nabokov was a ...


Stephen Fender, 3 April 1980

The London Yankees: Portraits of American Writers and Artists in England, 1894-1914 
by Stanley Weintraub.
W.H. Allen, 408 pp., £7.95, November 1979, 0 491 02209 3
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The Americans: Fifty Letters from America on our Life and Times 
by Alistair Cooke.
Bodley Head, 323 pp., £5.95, October 1979, 0 370 30163 3
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... is whether such a concatenation represents a cultural phenomenon or a happy accident of the kind Tom Stoppard plays with in Travesties, about Zurich in 1916. It’s worth recalling that all the characters in that play were ‘taken from history’, including the narrator and master of ceremonies, Henry Carr: but as Carr says of one of the more ...

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