Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

The Coast of Utopia

Voyage, Shipwreck, Salvage

by Tom Stoppard

“Exhilarating! Pulses with the dizzying arrogance and anxiety of a new generation moving as fast as it can.” —Ben Brantley, The New York Times

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 368
  • Publication Date November 14, 2007
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-4340-2
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $18.00
  • Imprint Grove Hardcover
  • Publication Date August 14, 2003
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-4003-6
  • US List Price $49.95

About The Book

Comprising of three sequential plays, The Coast of Utopia chronicles the story of romantics and revolutionaries caught up in a struggle for political freedom in an age of emperors.

The Coast of Utopia is Tom Stoppard’s long-awaited and monumental trilogy that explores a group of friends who come of age under the Tsarist autocracy of Nicholas I, and for whom the term “intelligentsia” was coined. Among them are the anarchist Michael Bakunin, who was to challenge Marx for the soul of the masses; Ivan Turgenev, author of some of the most enduring works in Russian literature; the brilliant, erratic young critic Vissarion Belinsky; and Alexander Herzen, a nobleman’s son and the first self-proclaimed socialist in Russia, who becomes the main focus of this drama of politics, love, loss and betrayal. In The Coast of Utopia, Stoppard presents an inspired examination of the struggle between romantic anarchy, utopian idealism and practical reformation in what The New York Times calls, “The biggest theatrical event of the year. . . . Brilliant, sprawling. . . . A rich pageant.”


“Stoppard’s crowning achievement.” —David Cote, Time Out New York

“Exhilarating! Pulses with the dizzying, arrogance and anxiety of a new generation moving as fast as it can.” —Ben Brantley, The New York Times

“The triumph of the season!” —Linda Winer, Newsday

“Unforgettable and unmissable! An experience of life as much as an experience of art.” —Clive Barnes, New York Post

“A tour de force! Rich with unforgettable images.” —Joe Dziemianowicz, New York Daily News

“Broadway will struggle during this and possibly many other seasons to come up with an event to top this rich and highly literate drama.” —David Rooney, Variety

“A rare chance to see stage work—from stars and journeymen alike—at its zenith.” —Jeremy McCarter, New York Magazine

“A work that reverberates in the imagination long after the curtain has come down.” —Hilton Als, The New Yorker

The Coast of Utopia is a long, elaborate pageant, populated by rank after rank of Russian intellectuals. In the late 1830s and 1840s, the members of this intelligentsia created a new kind of critical literature and a new way of being in the world. These men and women believed, strenuously and deeply, in the creative and cleansing power of ideas. They saw it as the sacred duty of intellectuals to find and master the greatest thinkers and then to apply their theories to changing the world. . . . In the age of Blink and Blahnik, when the stupidity of a radio shock jock inspires a fit of moral indignation in the American press but the destructive ineptitude of the American government does not, Stoppard has made us see what it was like to love ideas with a whole heart, to fight for a better world with all one’s strength, to write for readers who waited for days for each new article, to hurt the people one loves most, and to insist that no ends, however good, can justify immoral means. The Coast of Utopia brings us face to face with complex, articulated characters, doing their imperfect best to solve the hardest problems with which existence confronts us. Whatever its flaws, it is an extraordinary achievement.” —Anthony Grafton, The New York Review of Books

“Political utopianism, with all its blood-soaked passion, is back. . . . [in] the biggest theatrical event of the year. . . . Brilliant, sprawling. . . . A rich pageant. . . . [Stoppard’s characters] are besotted with idealism, they seethe at oppression, they are frustrated with life and with love. [His] trilogy is a constant reminder that the seduction of revolutionary thought is only partly in the theories; in its birthing hours it is full of drama, excitement and, yes, fun. Throughout it all Mr. Stoppard’s trademark wit is so much in evidence. . . . Stoppard’s exploration of the life of the mind in mid-19th-century Russia is a timely reminder of why . . . America’s way has always been better than the utopian alternatives.” —The New York Times

“Obvious brilliance . . . Unlike his foolish and always sincere characters, he possesses the discipline of a great artist, who knows that in dreams lie responsibilities: to build a world, one must first fashion the bricks. . . . A work that reverberates in the imagination long after the curtain has come down. . .” —Hilton Als, The New Yorker

“The trilogy unfolding at Lincoln Center becomes unforgettable and unmissable, an experience of life as much as an experience of art.” —Clive Barnes, New York Post

“Stoppard’s brilliant, complex and utterly admirable trilogy . . . is a witty, highly intelligent and humorus masterpiece into which the spectator dives as if it were a deep adventurous sea, churning up the stormy waters of 19th century history and its philosophical thinkers, political dreamers, revolutionaries and utopians.” —Verena Winter, Theater Record (UK)

“[A] dazzling, gargantuan epic—not unlike some great, sprawling Russian novel for the stage. . . . Stoppard’s language sparkles with wit—and frequently moving poetry.” —Oliver Jones, What’s On (UK)

“Refreshingly ambitious in its sweep. . . . It’s packed with reflections on idealism and political change that still have clout today.” —Benedict Nightingale, The Times (UK)

“Intelligent, lucid, eloquent and enlivened by the author’s wit and eye for the absurd. . . . The Coast of Utopia gives voice to a philosophy of moderation dear to Stoppard’s heart: respect for the individual over the collective and hatred for theories of history that sanctify the bloody sacrifice of the present as a necessary step towards some blissful illusory destination.” —Paul Taylor, Independent (UK)

“A delight in caprice, chance and the unrepeatable moment also makes this the work of a poet.” —Susannah Clapp, Observer (UK)

“A huge epic, bristling with ideas about art, love, politics, reality, and, as the overall title suggests, utopias. . . . At his best Stoppard brings long-dead people back to witty life, as well as making their philosophies both comprehensible and entertaining as he pleads against the violent, dogmatic imposition of change.” —Jane Edwards, Time Out (UK)

“Rarely, if ever, has a work so complex achieved such clarity.” —John Nathan, Jewish Chronicle (UK)

“Contains some of Stoppard’s best writing. Nobody in the theatre today can match him for a combination of sinuous argument, intellectual élan, and sheer coruscating wit. The dialogue has a leaping, athletic energy: excitement of the mind and the heart.” —John Peter, Sunday Times (UK)

“Beautiful. . . . I was happy just luxuriating in the sheer texture of the scenes Stoppard sets before us. Stoppard adores those moments of conjunction when history is like a VIP lounge. . . . The meanings of the play cohere as you watch, not as narrative but as poetry, and keep growing in recollection. . . . His sense of history has [never] been finer—fuller—than here.” —Alastair Macaulay, Financial Times (UK)

Praise for Voyage:

“Starts in a genially Chekhovian style, introduces key characters, and gives you a sense of the intellectual hurly-burly of an age in which dissident aristocrats or ‘repentant gentry’ were leading the opposition to a serf-owning society and a monstrously oppressive Tsar.” —Benedict Nightingale, The Times (UK)

“Like a tonic combination of Gorki and Checkov.” —Michael Billington, Guardian (UK)

Praise for Salvage:

“A Dickensian portrait of the fractious émigré community.” —Michael Billington, Guardian (UK)


The Lincoln Center production of The Coast of Utopia broke Tony Award records given to a play, including 2007 Best Play, Tom Stoppard; Featured Actor, Billy Crudup; Featured Actress Jennifer Ehle; Direction, Jack o’Brien; Scenic design, Bob Crowley and Scott Pask; Costumer design, Catherine Zuber; Lighting design, Brian MacDevitt, Kenneth Posner, and Natasha Katz.