A Playby Tom Stoppard
Tom Stoppard’s time-traveling masterpiece, an exploration of art, truth, history, and love, published by Grove Press for the first time.
“It is a defect of God’s humor that he directs our hearts everywhere but to those who have a right to them.” —Tom Stoppard, Arcadia
In a large country house in Derbyshire in April 1809 sits Lady Thomasina Coverly, aged thirteen, and her tutor, Septimus Hodge. Through the window may be seen some of the “five hundred acres inclusive of lake” where Capability Brown’s idealized landscape is about to give way to the Gothic style: “Everything but vampires,” as the garden historian Hannah Jarvis remarks to Bernard Nightingale when they stand in the same room 180 years later. Bernard has arrived to uncover the scandal which is said to have taken place when Lord Byron stayed at Sidley Park.
Tom Stoppard’s masterful play takes us back and forth between the centuries and explores 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—”the attraction,” as Hannah says, “which Newton left out.”
“There’s no doubt about it. Arcadia is Tom Stoppard’s richest, most ravishing comedy to date, a play of wit, intellect, language, brio and . . . emotion. It’s like a dream of levitation: you’re instantaneously aloft, soaring, banking, doing loop-the-loops and then, when you think you’re about to plummet to earth, swooping to a gentle touchdown of not easily described sweetness and sorrow.” —New York Times
“A masterpiece . . . I feel irrationally, impossibly confident that Arcadia is the finest play written in my lifetime.” —New Yorker
“One of the greatest English-language plays of the postwar era, a highbrow whodunit that starts out as a sparkling artificial comedy about extramarital lust, then gradually evolves into a poetic meditation on the philosophico-romantic implications of the Second Law of Thermodynamics.” —Wall Street Journal
“Enchanting . . . has an erudition that is not so much intimidating as touching. You leave with a reinvigorated admiration for Stoppard’s gifts, for the gratifying warmth with which he paints his characters, for the breadth of ideas he so seductively and amusingly imparts . . . a contemporary voice that tells us almost as much as Shakespeare did about the common plight of the people of this planet.” —Washington Post
“A tour-de-force, consistently deemed one of the best plays of the 20th century.” —Los Angeles Times
“Brims with intelligence . . . prismatic.” —Chicago Tribune
“Stoppard’s magisterial Arcadia has only grown in power and relevance . . . Perhaps the greatest play of its time . . . The greatest love story on the British stage for decades . . . A masterpiece—but it is even more than that. The play stirs the most basic and profound questions humans can ask. How should we live with the knowledge that extinction is certain–not just of ourselves, but of our species?” —Independent (UK)