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Arcadia
by Tom Stoppard

Arcadia is a brilliantly inventive play that moves back and forth between centuries, populated by a varied and vastly entertaining cast of characters who discuss such topics as 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-according to the author, "the attraction which Newton left out."






Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (1 of 6), Read 25 times Conf: Reading List From: Pres Lancaster plancast@neteze.com Date: Sunday, September 15, 2002 05:21 PM To begin the discussion of ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard, here is an outline summary of the play. I doubt if it is a spoiler because the events of the play are only a skeleton to be later dressed in Gwyneth Paltrow flesh. I apologize for the length of what has been written; there was neither time nor ability to shorten it. Arcadia is about events at Sidley Park, a stately home in England that is an Arcadia. There is contentment and rural simplicity of an aristocratic kind, but there are also genius, events leading to a duel, academic fireworks, and a puzzle. There are two stories, one set in 1809/1812, the other set in the present day. They are intertwined and in the end they occur simultaneously, which should be confusing, but isn’t. Only in Arcadia. In 1809, England is moving from the “Classical” period, to the “Romantic”. Sidley Park is being re-landscaped. In the present, Sidley Park is being excavated, the history of its gardens is being dug-up, and inside the house the history of the events of 1809/1812 are being “dug up”. All of the action takes place - 1809, present, 1809, present, present, 1809, and, simultaneously, 1812 and the present - in one large room with great windows overlooking the park. Not different, really, from any time-switching novel. 1809 (scene 1) Septimus Hodge, who was Lord Byron’s contemporary at Harrow and Trinity College, is tutoring Thomasina Coverly, daughter of Lord and Lady Croom. Thomasina is lively and artless and very, very bright – a genius. Her lessons consist of Latin, Geometry, Algebra, and Drawing, but there seems to be some Newtonian physics mixed in. Lady Croom’s brother, Captain Brice, is visiting Sidley Park with his friends, Ezra and Charity Chater. Charity Chater we know only from what others say of her. Her husband, having been told by the landscape gardener that Mrs. Chater has had “carnal embrace” with Mr. Hodge, appears in the classroom and demands satisfaction – a duel. Septimus flatters Chater about his writing and his current book, “The Couch of Eros”; Chater abandons the duel and inscribes “Eros” writing “To my friend, Septimus Hodge . . .” Lady Croom appears and discusses with Noakes, the “landskip” gardener, the project which is transforming Sidley Park; she notes Thomasina’s age – thirteen years, ten months. It should be noted that Lady Croom is indeed aristocratic – well educated, sharply intelligent, and imperious. Human, too. Thomasina refers to the game books, yearly records of hunting on the estate, in anticipation of later developments. The Present (scene 2) Bernard Nightingale, Don at the University of Sussex, and sometimes book reviewer, comes to Sidley Park bearing the copy of “The Couch of Eros” which Chater inscribed to Septimus; the book has been found as being from Lord Byron’s library, long dispersed. Bernard is trying to be an upwardly mobile academic, is rather smart-ass, and hopes to discover new information about Lord B’s doings. Hannah Jarvis, author(ess) of “Caro,” a successful study of the eccentric Lady Caroline Lamb who while married to Lord Melbourne had had an affair with Lord Byron during the years 1812/13. Bernard has written a review of “Caro” which Hannah characterizes as “a thousand words in the Observer to see me off the premises with a pat on the bottom.” Hannah is resident at Sidley Park while she studies the Croom papers with a view to writing about the Sidley hermit. Bernard conceals his identity while he tries to win Hannah’s good will and help. There is much academic skirmishing (to be expected), though, strictly speaking, Hannah is not an academic. By the end of the scene, Bernard believes he has evidence that Byron killed Chater in a previously unknown duel, a coup of scholarship. Neither Lord nor Lady Croom appear in the present, though they are lightly referred to. Three Coverly children are present: Valentine, a student of mathematics at Oxford; Chloë, on the verge of womanhood who quickly conjures up a crush on Bernard; and Gus, who is thought to be a genius but never speaks. Valentine is the foil for discussing the now historical Thomasina’s mathematics and ideas. The Coverly children are engaged, more or less, in the annual dance for the district (noblesse oblige); it involves dressing up. 1809, the next morning (scene 3) Thomasina is translating a Latin lesson. Chater, abetted by Captain Brice who would like to see Chater out of the way and Charity Chater licitly available, again challenges Septimus to a duel, having learned that Septimus is the author of a scathing review of Chater’s first book. The duel is set for the following morning. The Present (scene 4) Hannah and Valentine discuss Thomasina’s matho/physico papers. Bernard appears with what he believes is additional evidence of the possibility of the Byron-Chater duel. The Present (scene 5) Bernard reads his paper about the B/C duel for Hannah and the Coverly children. During his reading there is discussion and sniping and Bernard ends up being offensive to Valentine, which offends Chloë. Bernard invites Hannah to have sex with him but she rejects the invitation, more amused than offended. After Bernard leaves there is further discussion between Hannah and Valentine – this time, about Thomas Love Peacock’s letter concerning the Sidley hermit. 1809, the next morning (scene 6) Septimus returns to the house having shot a rabbit in the early morning since Chater has not appeared for the duel. Septimus learns that while he was sleeping at the boathouse, Captain Brice, the Chaters, and Lord Byron were banished from Sidley Park in the early hours of the morning, the consequence of Lady Croom discovering Charity Cater leaving Lord Byron’s room. Since Lady Croom had been having an affair with Lord Byron while neglecting Septimus, it was not her morality but her dignity that was offended. Further, she is almost curmudgeonly, in high dudgeon over letters written by Septimus in the event of his death during the duel. The letters had not been addressed to her; imperiousness excuses all. By means of Septimus’s adroit flattery, peace is restored to Arcadia, 1809. 1814 and The Present, simultaneously (scene 7) Bernard’s article about Byron’s supposed duel in which Chater was killed appears in a London paper. “Even in Arcadia – Sex, Literature, and Death at Sidley Park." Hannah and Valentine talk about Thomasina’s equation which Valentine has programmed into his computer, producing a beautiful, nature-like pattern. Thomasina and Septimus talk about S’s promise to teach T to waltz – and about scientific papers. Lady Croom appears and lets us know that Chater has died of a monkey bite and that Captain Brice has married Charity Chater. Lady Croom discusses the proposed hermitage with Noakes. Bernard arrives and Hannah reveals to him that there is now evidence that the Chater who died in Martinique was also the Chater who had visited Sidley Park and consequently could not have been killed by Byron in a duel at the Park. Thus Bernard’s article will have to retracted before he is made out an incompetent and mendacious literary scholar. At night, before her seventeenth birthday, Thomasina comes to Septimus to learn how to waltz; Valentine comes from the estate dance, having unraveled Thomasina’s equations. THE PLAY ENDS with Septimus and Thomasina dancing. We know from a throw-away line in present time that Thomasina dies in a fire in her room that night (there is a memorial in the park). From Hannah’s remarks about bits and pieces of letters, etc., we deduce, but are not told, that the Sidley Park hermit is Septimus who, after Thomasina’s death, goes to live in the hermitage, and spend the rest of his life trying to solve Thomasina’s equations. As said above, this is but a skeleton. There is no better subject for discussion - of the difference (or similarity) between text and performance, of the difference (or similarity) between reading and seeing, of the delineation of character, of the role of setting, of Wit in the service of Sentiment, and of the portrayal of two different, uncommon worlds – two Arcadias. pres
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (2 of 6), Read 19 times Conf: Reading List From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Sunday, September 15, 2002 06:19 PM I read this a few days ago, and already I’ve forgotten if the world-famous painting by Nicholas Poussin, Et in Arcadia Ego is directly mentioned. Even if it isn’t, the work hovers in the background by implication. Et in Arcadia Ego Nicholas Poussin c.1655 oil on cavans, app;rox. 34x48 Louvre Et in Arcardia Ego, I, too, in Arcadia, or Even in Arcadia (I am)—the “I” meaning death. Thus even in this idyllic land, the mythical Arcadia, we cannot escape death. These are three shepherds contemplating a tombstone on which the motto appears. The young woman with them may be the Spirit of Death, either offering comfort, as some have suggested, or claiming one shepherd for her own. Ruth
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (3 of 6), Read 16 times Conf: Reading List From: Jane Niemeier jniemeie@hotmail.com Date: Sunday, September 15, 2002 09:40 PM This play is so light-hearted most of the time. The death of Thomasina is a real tragedy. This young girl is a genius, and Valentine at first refuses to believe that her equation meant anything in her day. He is sure that the equation wasn't really discovered until much later. Although, he doesn't say so, he must have changed his mind, since he plugs the equation into the computer. I loved the way that Bernard jumped to conclusions. He wrote his theory and then went about finding the proof, even though Hannah warned him that he was wrong. He did things backwards. I would love to see this play. Jane
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (4 of 6), Read 9 times Conf: Reading List From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Sunday, September 15, 2002 10:46 PM I really enjoyed reading this. I used to read plays all the time, don't know why I stopped. In many ways this reminded me of an old-fashioned drawing room comedy. Something of the artificial wit and banter of, say, Noel Coward--yet with a more serious underpinning. Ruth
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (5 of 6), Read 5 times Conf: Reading List From: Sherry Keller shkell@starband.net Date: Monday, September 16, 2002 08:00 AM Thank you so much, Pres, for that wonderful note. It really brings things into focus. What I liked best about this play is that it made me think about "history" and whether it's possible to ever really know the truth about something. By the end, we had a sort of truth about the period the present-day folks were studying, but not the whole story. And it makes me wonder how many half-truths or fantasies get intertwined into the official story, because of personal or political reasons. I also liked the stuff about landscape architecture, because at one time I knew a lot more about it, and I thought the jibes at that profession were fun. When I saw the play, Valentine had a laptop with fractals running (Mandelbrot equations?) so that it was visible to audience. It added a lot to the experience. Sherry
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (6 of 6), Read 6 times, 1 File Attachment Conf: Reading List From: Sherry Keller shkell@starband.net Date: Monday, September 16, 2002 08:34 AM Some of you might be interested in this site: http://math.bu.edu/DYSYS/explorer/index.html Sherry EXPLODING-LOOP.GIF (130KB)
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (7 of 38), Read 66 times Conf: Reading List From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Monday, September 16, 2002 12:23 PM Cool, Sherry. Do I haveta read about the math? Can't I just play with the pretty pictures? Ruth
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (8 of 38), Read 64 times Conf: Reading List From: Pres Lancaster plancast@neteze.com Date: Monday, September 16, 2002 02:02 PM To talk about reading the play Arcadia, I have to separate the text from memories of the two performances I have seen so far. (I would eagerly see it again at first opportunity.) It is like a see-saw: As of the moment, the text is up. I find it to be a plum pudding of a book, filled with goodies that are like Alice's DRINK ME bottle and EAT ME cake - the means through the door and into the garden. About my memories of the performances: They are a golden blur. I remember being entranced, racing along behind the language and ideas as they poured forth. I am sorry to say I remember no particular actress or actor; the warp and woof made the fabric, a blend of textures, into a whole. The London and San Francisco performances were equivalent - both dominated by the set, which is very important to the "feel" of the play. The large classical room, a feeling of great openness, the perfect setting for the events, for the "spirit" of the play, which, with the major focus on learning, looks to the hoped for perfection of man - in Arcadia. There is another quality that the play gives to The Room: it is the focus of the comings and goings of all the various people that make up each world, the historical or the present. In each case there is a sense of a life free of everyday concerns, flowing through a landscape meant to hold it. And there is a whiff of eccentricity, bestowed perhaps by the freedom. I have come to feel that these memories and feelings about the play have all come back and been jelled by the reading of the text. pres
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (9 of 38), Read 64 times Conf: Reading List From: Pres Lancaster plancast@neteze.com Date: Monday, September 16, 2002 02:25 PM Another thought: This play contains practically no emotion as there is in plays such as Streetcar, Proof, or something by Pinter. In this, it is much like Shaw, where the subject is idea, however cleverly disguised with wit and diversion. And to the extent I have seen them or read about them, all of Stoppard's plays are cast in this mold (mould?). (First determine what ideas are buried like land mines; next determine if they have grown old; and then, if they have died, determine if the diversion is worth your time.) pres
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (10 of 38), Read 63 times Conf: Reading List From: Candy Minx candyminx@hotmail.com Date: Monday, September 16, 2002 02:19 PM That painting is one of my all time favorite art works. Period. I love it, it is os mysterious. I have mentioned Panofsky's essay on this phrase/painting here before and I highly recommend it. Panofsky explores interpretations (notice that plural?) on the ever mysterious phrase Et In Arcadia Ego. Panofsky says that the phrase in Poussins and other artists hands suggests: "even in Death, I am here"... here is a fantasitic resource: http://www.skidmore.edu/academics/theater/productions/arcadia Dare I find some notes by Bloom about Stoppard? Heh, heh, I couldn't resist Pres...
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (11 of 38), Read 63 times Conf: Reading List From: Candy Minx candyminx@hotmail.com Date: Monday, September 16, 2002 02:38 PM Pres writes: (First determine what ideas are buried like land mines; next determine if they have grown old; and then, if they have died, determine if the diversion is worth your time.) Yes, and then this makes me think of "classical" ideas...and I do wonder if some ideas have died or are still challenging... It makes me wonder what new ideas are suggested in this play? Is it possible to have new ideas? With Panofsky's essay, he says artists and writers give classical and traditional matrices new meanings and usage...reflecting new ways of thinking about old things...
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (12 of 38), Read 60 times Conf: Reading List From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Monday, September 16, 2002 03:14 PM Great link, Candy. It'll take some time to explore. I read the Panofsky essay in grad school, but most of it's faded from my mind. I'm sure I own the Panofsky book it's in, Art and Visual Meaning. But when I looked for in in regard to this painting, I couldn't find it. Ruth
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (13 of 38), Read 60 times Conf: Reading List From: Pres Lancaster plancast@neteze.com Date: Monday, September 16, 2002 07:27 PM Yes, a great link, CANDY. As I said above, the play is filled with goodies (intellectual, that is), and one chooses what to mine at one's own pace. It was inevitable that the play would provide an academic feast, to be gnawed until the last marrow bone is nothing but splinters. About ET IN ARCADIA EGO, my source (hee!) says "Inscription on a tomb, frequently reproduced in paintings, e.g. by Guercino, Poussin, and Reynolds." Usually translated : 'And I too (the occupant of the tomb) was in Arcadia.' But perhaps rather . . .(See E. Panofsky in Philosophy and History: essays presented to E Cassirer, 1936.)" I much prefer the quotation without the reference to Death, though Septimus and Thomasina read it that way: Septimus (referring to the game books, yearly records of hunting on the estate): A calendar of slaughter. 'Even in Arcadia, there am I!' Thomasina: Oh, phooey to death! . . . (And isn't phooey an anachronism? Must look it up.) pres
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (14 of 38), Read 62 times Conf: Reading List From: Pres Lancaster plancast@neteze.com Date: Monday, September 16, 2002 07:34 PM "Phooey" is an anachronism. Origin U.S. 1929. Quoted sources, Ogden Nash and Raymond Chandler. pres
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (15 of 38), Read 46 times Conf: Reading List From: Pres Lancaster plancast@neteze.com Date: Wednesday, September 18, 2002 01:23 PM HEY! Where is everybody ? Thoughts: How about the similarity of this to A.S. Byatt's POSSESSION and vice versa. Events in the past and researchers trying to unravel them. I think one of the most interesting bits in the play is Thomasina's remark about stirring rice pudding: "But if you stir backward, the jam will not come together again. Indeed, the pudding does not notice and continues to turn pink just as before. Do you think this is odd? Septimus: No Thomasina: Well I do. You cannot stir things apart. Septimus: . . . disorder out of disorder into disorder . . . This is known as free will or self determination. (Scene 1, Page 5) ALSO, in Scene 7, Page 75, Hannah states what I read to be Stoppard's message to the playgoer/playreader: ". . . It's wanting to know that makes us matter. Otherwise we're going out the way we came in. . ." pres, who feels lonely here and is going out.
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (16 of 38), Read 45 times Conf: Reading List From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Wednesday, September 18, 2002 01:39 PM >>. It's wanting to know that makes us matter. Otherwise we're going out the way we came in That's marvellous, Pres, thanks for rooting it out. I feel a little overwhelmed by this play, there's so much crammed into this small package. Arcadia, death, life, determinism, chaos theory, Fermat, art... Where to start? Ruth
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (17 of 38), Read 45 times Conf: Reading List From: Dottie Randall randallj@ix.netcom.com Date: Wednesday, September 18, 2002 01:56 PM I must truly be mad but I did say I was going to order this one and catch up. I can tell it's going to overwhelm me -- I can tell I'm going to be 'in over my head' -- I guess that's irrelevant given other circumstances of my life currently -- I can tell it's going to make me dizzy with the thoughts it stirs up -- but this is just TOO tempting to resist. Does this mean I'm TRULY a CR? Maybe. I will have to wait until tomorrow to contact Waterstones -- but I WILL do it. Dottie "Ice burns, and it is hard to the warm-skinned to distinguish one sensation, fire, from the other, frost." from 'Cold', in Elementals: Stories of Fire and Ice, A.S.Byatt
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (18 of 38), Read 41 times Conf: Reading List From: Pres Lancaster plancast@neteze.com Date: Wednesday, September 18, 2002 02:16 PM RUTH HAS WRITTEN: I feel a little overwhelmed by this play, there's so much crammed into this small package. Arcadia, death, life, determinism, chaos theory, Fermat, art... Where to start? AND DOTTIE HAS WRITTEN: I can tell it's going to overwhelm me . . . going to make me dizzy with the thoughts it stirs up. AND I SAY: Think of it as smorgasbord. ALSO KEEP IN MIND, BERNARD'S REMARK: Brideshead Regurgitated pres, who thinks you start wherever.
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (19 of 38), Read 42 times Conf: Reading List From: Dottie Randall randallj@ix.netcom.com Date: Wednesday, September 18, 2002 02:23 PM Think of it as smorgasbord. Like life? Brideshead Regurgitated Like life? JK -- but I'm already drowning in life -- still this one was one that I voted for and WANTED terribly to read -- so Waterstones will get a call tomorrow -- I promise. Dottie "Ice burns, and it is hard to the warm-skinned to distinguish one sensation, fire, from the other, frost." from 'Cold', in Elementals: Stories of Fire and Ice, A.S.Byatt
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (20 of 38), Read 44 times Conf: Reading List From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Wednesday, September 18, 2002 02:42 PM These are interesting ideas. Thomasina's pudding and jam problem relates to a property of nature which says that the jam will tend to spread itself out in the pudding until it is evenly distributed. The same will happen if a drop of ink is placed on the surface of a glass of water. The ink will spread until it is uniformly distributed in the water. It will never reverse itself so that after a time the ink will re-appear as a drop on the surface of the water. This state of uniform distribution is called equilibrium. Nature always tends to a state of equilibrium. The measure of how close a system is to equilibrium is called entropy. The closer to equilibrium the greater the entropy. The concept of entropy was introduced in 1854 by Rudolf Clausius and came out of his efforts to increase the efficiency of the steam engine. The Newcomen steam engine was flawed in that it could only operate for a limited time before it stopped no matter how much fuel was supplied. The flaw was corrected by James Watt which made the steam engine practical and prompted the work of Clausius et alii. The play made me wonder what factors need to be in place before a discovery can be made. In particular, what was needed to find Thomasina's leaf equations. I referred to "The History of Mathematics" by Carl Boyer and found that there was a mathematician at Trinity College named George Peacock (1791-1858). He contributed to the development of math in England which, at the time, was lagging that of the Continent. For example, "whereas on the Continent mathematicians were developing the graphical representation of complex numbers, in England there were protests that not even negative numbers had validity." Even if Hodge had given Thomasina a Continental view of algebra, the generation of the equations themselves requires a computer as described in "The Mathematical Tourist" by Ivars Peterson, pp. 127-132. Dean All roads lead to roam.
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (21 of 38), Read 41 times Conf: Reading List From: Candy Minx candyminx@hotmail.com Date: Wednesday, September 18, 2002 08:42 PM Don't be lonely Pres..we're around. I am just up to my neck in painting and reading and shooting some scenes...but I will be checking in here and there... I like the idea of approaching this play as a smorgasboard, I think that is the most organic and appropriate entrance to the play. It is not written for a leads to b leads to c. Or at least thats how I feel about it. I believe, this is my own opinion...that the Panofsky essay is a must read. I think it may be in your copy of Art and Meaning, that rings a bell, Ruth. It is more than about Poussin or the phrase of Arcadia...it is how we move ideas along between us... Which reminds me how funny that quote was saying "Bridehead Regurgitated" I feel its all about that, and regurgitated is not a BAD thing...its just a thing and its what humans do... Ruth, I have revisited that essay on and off for twenty years, it never loses its charm and insight for me...if you have the inclination, I would love to hear what you think of it...I feel it is so rellevant....to art, reading blah blah blah.... (SIDE NOTE:Which leads me to say here that coincidently-or rather the request for novels about friendship made me drove to to-a few days ago, I totally watched the entire mini-series Brideshead Revisisted on dvd. Of course the opening episode is called Et In Arcadia Ego...this is one of the best mini-series EVER!!! I am pretty much assuming most folks around here have either/or and both read or seen this mini-series. Its right up there with Roots and Pride and Prejudice. If you have never seen it...do not pass go do not collect $200----go get it and watch it!)
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (22 of 38), Read 42 times Conf: Reading List From: Candy Minx candyminx@hotmail.com Date: Wednesday, September 18, 2002 08:45 PM ah, there was one other thing about the inscription on the tomb...and trust me, I have done ridiculous readings about Poussin and research about this odd phrase, its a pet hobby of mine...but there is a kind of vibe that suggests in some areas that this is alluding to Christs tomb...I shall see if I can track that down...oh boy speaking of smorgasboards...I am going off on a tangent here, don't worry, I'll reel myself in... Cheers
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (23 of 38), Read 41 times Conf: Reading List From: Candy Minx candyminx@hotmail.com Date: Wednesday, September 18, 2002 08:46 PM Actually, Dean howdy...fasinating bits in your last post...I guess you too are seeing a buffet fit for a reader around here too huh? I have to read your post again it was chock-a-lot full!
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (24 of 38), Read 38 times Conf: Reading List From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Thursday, September 19, 2002 01:45 AM No kidding, Candy. I thought that a mathematician named Peacock coeval with Thomasina was a serendipitous find. When Valentine said that math was once connected to reality but then became abstract, I cringed because math has always been abstract. The notion of number, what we take so much for granted, is an abstract idea. As Morris Kline says in "Mathematices for the Nonmathematician," pp.11-12: "Though there have been hundreds of civilizations, many with great art, literature, philosophy, religion, and social institutions, very few possessed any mathematics worth talking about. Most of these civilizations hardly got passed the stage of being able to count to five or ten. In some of these early civilizations a few steps in mathematics were taken. In prehistoric times, which means roughly before 4000 B.C., several civilizations at least learned to think about numbers as abstract concepts. That is they recognized that three sheep and three arrows have something in common, a quantity called three, which can be thought about independently of any physical objects. Each of us in his own schooling goes through this same process of divorcing numbers from physical objects. The appreciation of "number" as an abstract idea is a great, and perhaps the first, step in the founding of mathematics." I can't remember where but I have read that some cultures who have not made this leap have one word for "one sheep," another word for "two sheep," and so on. My point is that, when we are say that ideas are more or less abstract what we really mean is that there are abstractions with which we are accustomed and abstractions with which we are not accustomed. Dean All roads lead to roam.
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (25 of 38), Read 38 times Conf: Reading List From: Marcy Vaughan vaughan@yahoo.com Date: Thursday, September 19, 2002 02:11 AM Dean – it seems we are at the same end of the buffet table. Just before reading your post (#20), I had been reading about Clausius and entropy. I also learned that Fermat’s last theorem was proved a few months after Arcadia was first performed! Something that I thought was quite clever on Stoppard’s part struck me when I read the following line by Thomasina: “Newton’s equations go forwards and backwards, they do not care which way. But the heat equation cares very much, it goes only one way” (87). Hannah is the primary representative of classical temperament in the play, and her name is a palindrome!!! (Can’t help but put all those exclamation points – I thought that was so clever.) (By this I mean that Hannah is determined to hold herself immune from “the attraction that Newton left out” (74); she “won’t let anyone kiss her.” Remember, she describes the “whole Romantic sham” as “the decline from thinking to feeling” (27).) -Marcy
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (26 of 38), Read 35 times Conf: Reading List From: Dottie Randall randallj@ix.netcom.com Date: Thursday, September 19, 2002 10:56 AM Waterstones comes through -- book should be in my hands Tuesday at the latest. Hooray. Dottie "Ice burns, and it is hard to the warm-skinned to distinguish one sensation, fire, from the other, frost." from 'Cold', in Elementals: Stories of Fire and Ice, A.S.Byatt
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (27 of 38), Read 35 times Conf: Reading List From: Robert Armstrong rla@nac.net Date: Thursday, September 19, 2002 09:57 PM Such savvy comments above. Pres, did you nominate this play? I enjoyed it thoroughly, especially the wit and humor. Septimus Hodge was my favorite character closely followed by Lady Croom. Both were hilarious. Oddly, my life partner, Peter Hodge, bears some resemblance to Septimus. Naughty, naughty, but a lot can be forgiven when one is witty about it. I am familiar with two other Tom Stoppard plays: THE REAL INSPECTOR HOUND and ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD, which are folies for the mind, giddy explosions of ideas, as Pres pointed out. One idea that crept in after I finished reading ARCADIA was that the goings on in the 1809/1812 story became a senseless tragedy (for Septimus and Thomasina) and this ultimately contradicts any neat philosophical conclusions one can glean from the clever order of the play. It seems that life is beyond either construct of Classicism or Romanticism although each approach captures a piece. Stoppard is more in the tradition of Existentialism with an absurd outcome to throw you back into the unknown. It is the same with ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD. Stoppard’s landscape is the territory where comedy and tragedy meet. Robt
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (28 of 38), Read 30 times Conf: Reading List From: Dottie Randall randallj@ix.netcom.com Date: Friday, September 20, 2002 04:39 AM Such savvy comments above. To borrow your phrase and include the remainder of your own comments in those savvy comments above, Robert --- I absolutely agree. PRES wrote: Thoughts: How about the similarity of this to A.S. Byatt's POSSESSION and vice versa. Events in the past and researchers trying to unravel them. Sheesh -- had I mentioned that Possession was one of my most recent acquisitions from Hasselt Bib? I took it along to the opening Jazz evening at the local Holiday Inn and even just reading the acknowledgements and then about four pages into the book I already had a bit of that feeling. I didn't note the specifics but when I begin again with this -- I'll see if the same blip hits my radar screen. Once the Stoppard arrives and I've read it I'll be back, meanwhile I'll work on the Byatt among other things. Dottie "Ice burns, and it is hard to the warm-skinned to distinguish one sensation, fire, from the other, frost." from 'Cold', in Elementals: Stories of Fire and Ice, A.S.Byatt
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (29 of 38), Read 31 times Conf: Reading List From: Pres Lancaster plancast@neteze.com Date: Friday, September 20, 2002 12:20 PM ROBERT: In reply to your question, I did not nominate ARCADIA. I wish I had and I thank whoever did and if somebody has acknowledged nominating it and I've forgotten, I apologize. I'm real glad you've enjoyed the play, it seems, as much as I did. As I keep saying, it is this kind of sharing that CR is all about (well, for me). My take on ARCADIA is that Stoppard serves us up irony in a slice of reality - Arcadia is not Arcadia. Or, if that is too bitter a pill, it was Arcadia but it didn't last, vanished in a puff of flame. It is clear that Stoppard is greedily omnivorous - he serves us up a tasty casserole (don't you love my food metaphors?) of his history-philosophy-science reading, thus turning his avocation/addiction into a nice life and a nice income for him. I think this is characteristic of most of his play writing. Compare Pinter and Stoppard, if you can. His plays intrigue. He is like an inspired teacher who grips the classroom with her/his story, being so interesting that you forget you're in the classroom. pres, who thinks classrooms are all very well - for the young. For the old, correctional institutions.
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (30 of 38), Read 31 times Conf: Reading List From: Candy Minx candyminx@hotmail.com Date: Friday, September 20, 2002 12:45 PM On 9/20/2002 12:20:00 PM, Pres Lancaster wrote: >My take on ARCADIA is that >Stoppard serves us up irony in >a slice of reality - Arcadia >is not Arcadia. Or, if that is >too bitter a pill, it was >Arcadia but it didn't last, >vanished in a puff of flame. 1996 or 1997 March issue of American Scientific has an article about Greece and Arcadia. Its general premise was that the area known as Arcadia in reality was no garden of eden or lush or pacific...I intend to post a section of that here sometime this discussion...
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (31 of 38), Read 25 times Conf: Reading List From: Pres Lancaster plancast@neteze.com Date: Friday, September 20, 2002 07:58 PM This is from a review in Guardian Unlimited of Stoppard's new three play work, THE COAST OF UTOPIA, about the Russian intelligentsia and revolutionaries of 1833-1868: Michael Billington says: I think it time that we began to appreciate Stoppard not for his intellectual legerdemain, but for what he is actually best at: exploring the mystery of existence, the anguish of the human heart and the strange fact that it is our apprehension of death that gives joy and intensity to life. I think this remark fits ARCADIA and helps to explain the play's attraction and power. I am not so sure that it fits the other Stoppard plays I know. pres
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (32 of 38), Read 24 times Conf: Reading List From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Friday, September 20, 2002 08:16 PM Just got my NYer today and noticed there's a review of The Coast of Utopia in it. Ruth
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (33 of 38), Read 24 times Conf: Reading List From: Robert Armstrong rla@nac.net Date: Saturday, September 21, 2002 08:10 AM Pres, There’s certainly a connection between arcadia and utopia. I imagine utopia is used with plenty of irony, given the subject. I’m not familiar with enough Pinter plays to make an adequate comparison to Stoppard. Isn’t Pinter pickled in irony, too? Sub-surface subversions, understated anguish, dark comedy? The British have this sort of thing down. Also, the whole thing about Stoppard being educational while engrossing—there’s quite a theme regarding academics in ARCADIA, isn’t there? As Sherry pointed out, it makes you wonder if we have anything right about history. Stoppard skewers academic idiocy through Bernard Nightingale—another wonderful character. Theater, while educational, takes the learning process to another level, when done well, and bypasses pure intellectualism. It become experiential—a much better educational entry. Stoppard is blending mind and heart throughout the play, as do all good playwrights. So, the medium of theater is a natural blend of romanticism and classicism, I guess. This paragraph started out with academics and ended with theatre but I’m damned if I can dissect the topics out this morning. I would love to see a performance of ARCADIA after having had a chance to study it. Robt
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (34 of 38), Read 23 times Conf: Reading List From: Pres Lancaster plancast@neteze.com Date: Saturday, September 21, 2002 02:32 PM About the Romantics: Man is not, as the romantics imagined, good by nature. Men are equal not in their capacities and virtues but in their natural bias toward evil. Auden quoted by Gopnik in 9/23/02 New Yorker pres
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (35 of 38), Read 21 times Conf: Reading List From: Cassie Flint cassie.flint1@btinternet.com Date: Sunday, September 22, 2002 04:55 AM Dear Pres and all, looks like I've nearly missed the boat on this one, but thought that I would just say what a fantastic discussion you've all been having on a play that I taught about four years ago and grew to love. It was a real delight because as has been pointed out here it allowed you to wander through a whole variety of disciplines for want of a better word. I found myself looking into books about neo-classical landscaping, fractals and Fermat,as well as the wonders of the rice pudding enigma. I think the reviews about the Coast of Utopia have Stoppard about right, at least in Arcadia,and what is also prominent in that for me is the fact that he just loves to have and make fun out of our lives, albeit in perhaps to some an academic way.I just love the way he plays with coincidence and that to my mind makes him one of the ''big' writers along ,for me with Ondaatje ,McCarthy and Paton Walsh. Love, Cassie
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (36 of 38), Read 15 times Conf: Reading List From: Dottie Randall randallj@ix.netcom.com Date: Monday, September 23, 2002 07:32 AM The book/the play is in my hands as of this morning -- awaited me in the mailbox when I awakened! Will have it read most likely by this evening -- plan to approach it with great care -- a little cheese and something good to continue nibbling, a little liquid refreshment and total immersion in this book. Sounds like a plan to me! Dottie "Ice burns, and it is hard to the warm-skinned to distinguish one sensation, fire, from the other, frost." from 'Cold', in Elementals: Stories of Fire and Ice, A.S.Byatt
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (37 of 38), Read 5 times Conf: Reading List From: Dottie Randall randallj@ix.netcom.com Date: Tuesday, September 24, 2002 08:07 AM Talking to myself here -- heh -- I have to say I didn't quite finish the play yesterday but rather sat in the chair soaking in the warm morning sun as I consumed my orange-pineapple yogurt with cereal and the final delightful morsels of this play for breakfast this morning! What a romp. What fun, what humor, what a thought-provoking, wonderful play this is. I am absolutely tickled that I called Waterstones and got hold of this one -- to have missed this would have been a really bad thing. I loved it! Ruth said she used to read plays -- me, too, a lot compared to most of the people I've known -- and like Ruth, this one makes me ask myself why I haven't done that so much in more recent times. I would love to see a production of this -- I played the "set" and the action in my mind's eye and thoroughly enjoyed my own production but would also love to see a professional staging! I loved Gus -- and I loved that Gus was the one who gave the drawing to Hannah. Okay -- once I stop effervescing here, I'll see if I have anything to add to the thoughtful discussion which has taken place to date. A wonderful start to the day -- it took a bit to gather my thoughts even to this stage. Whose nomination was this, Sherry? Thanks go to that person most certainly as I never would have found this on my own I'm sure. Reason enough for loving this place, I would say -- though the people are what make it really work. Dottie "Ice burns, and it is hard to the warm-skinned to distinguish one sensation, fire, from the other, frost." from 'Cold', in Elementals: Stories of Fire and Ice, A.S.Byatt
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (38 of 38), Read 5 times Conf: Reading List From: Sherry Keller shkell@starband.net Date: Tuesday, September 24, 2002 08:24 AM I can't seem to find my list of nominators, Dottie, but I think it was Theresa. Sherry
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (39 of 71), Read 39 times Conf: Reading List From: Dottie Randall randallj@ix.netcom.com Date: Wednesday, September 25, 2002 05:43 AM Thanks! But where is Theresa if she did indeed nominate this one? Do come talk about this! I just realized as I'm gathering my thoughts this morning that on Sunday -- I was in Arcadia -- as in Sidley Park before Mr. Noakes had his way with the place. We went to the Moestuin weekend at Kasteel Hex as we've done for three years now and at one point, Jim and I having gone our separate ways for a time, I wandered through the Engels Landschapspark -- gently rolling grassy fields, clumps of trees, a large pond -- where a boat which I've dubbed "Ratty's boat" resides alongside some unknown to me breed of geese and a pair of swans as well as other water birds -- up a hill on one side path is a memorial -- Thomasina's memorial in Sidley Park. The loop path which I walked passes through fields dotted with black cattle (and sometimes sheep though lately the sheep have been below on the kitchen garden level) and eventually connects with the Platanendreef -- an allee of trees lining one of the main drives from one of the huge gates into the estate and that allee leads into the formal French garden laid out before the house. If I had turned to my right at that point I could have walked that drive to another of the gates and out and down yet another allee of trees -- one of these allees is plane trees and the other lindens -- I think. Though I'd have to do some reading to check that. An interesting thing along this drive are hedges which were designed to fool the eye -- as you enter that gate it appears that the house sits directly at the end of the hedges lining the drive but when you get to the end of those it opens on both sides into the French garden and you find that the house is exactly as much further as the distance you have already traveled from the gate to the end of the hedges. There are also a rose garden, an antique rose garden, a Prinsentuin (formal herb garden, a Chinese garden with a wonderful painted Buddha whose tongue waggles when the winds are right set at the far end of a lily pond, and a bee garden and ezelweide (this area includes a wild meadow garden -- though I don't know what that word actually translates to at the moment)and greenhouses and an area to start plants for the other gardens. It is wonderful spending a day there every spring (Roses Weekend) and fall (Moestuin weekend) -- but until this past Sunday -- I had never walked that entire English Park loop -- at one point I was totally surrounded by woods and there were no other wanderers around -- silence except for cattle in the distance and birds and insects immediately surrounding me -- heavenly -- Arcadia -- utopia. Perhaps. But just then a plane flew over -- that engine that irritated poor Lady Croom -- in modern guise. Dottie Lady Croom: It is a defect of God's humour that he directs our hearts everywhere but to those who have a right to them. Act Two Scene Six, Arcadia, Tom Stoppard
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (40 of 71), Read 32 times Conf: Reading List From: Pres Lancaster plancast@neteze.com Date: Wednesday, September 25, 2002 01:29 PM Her understanding of mathematics was laced with imagination, and described in metaphors. Thomasina? No. ADA, Countess Lovelace, Byron's daughter. Subject of a novel by Nabakov. pres
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (41 of 71), Read 29 times Conf: Reading List From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com Date: Wednesday, September 25, 2002 11:49 PM I just finished Arcadia tonight and am beyond grateful for these informative notes. Thank you all so much! This is the first Stoppard play I've read and have never seen one performed. After I first saw the movie Shakespeare in Love, I liked the script so much that I went back to see who had written the screenplay. It was Stoppard. That made me eager to read this play. And, now I'm a bit in awe. Pres and Sherry, when you saw Arcadia performed without reading the script, did you have any difficulty following it? I can't imagine seeing it without studying it a bit. I can't help but think of the books we've read here recently that seek to scewer academia. In incredibly few words, Stoppard puts them all to shame, in my opinion. Bernard is such a perfect example of the fallibility of the academic world. I think he'll forever be an archetype for me. Do you think that Stoppard intended to make the earlier period seem more attractive? Or, was it just me? I think I liked the characters of Septimus and Thomasina so much that I hated to shift into present day. And, that last scene combining time periods was absolutely brilliant. It must be incredible onstage. BArb
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (42 of 71), Read 29 times Conf: Reading List From: Sherry Keller shkell@starband.net Date: Thursday, September 26, 2002 09:15 AM Barb, I didn't have any trouble following it onstage. In fact, I thought it would be hard to understand the play unless you've seen it, so I'm delighted that wasn't the case for you. Sherry
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (43 of 71), Read 29 times Conf: Reading List From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Thursday, September 26, 2002 11:36 AM I loved that apple that kept cropping up. A sign of the Fall? Man's quest for knowledge? Ruth
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (44 of 71), Read 28 times Conf: Reading List From: Pres Lancaster plancast@neteze.com Date: Thursday, September 26, 2002 12:43 PM In reply to BARB's questions: Pres and Sherry, when you saw Arcadia performed without reading the script, did you have any difficulty following it? No. But I did have the sense that there was so much going on that I wanted to see it again as soon as possible. At the time, I wasn't wishing for the text, but when I came upon it, I grabbed it. Seeing the play, both times I had to mentally shift gears when the two time periods were melded. Do you think that Stoppard intended to make the earlier period seem more attractive? No, but I think that is what happens during the course of the play - for those who are tuned to the difference in the two periods. Bernard's crassness stains the present; the foibles of the earlier period at Sidley Park are easier to take. I share your fondness for Septimus and Thomasina; it is their charm, the charm of their particular world, that launches the play and provides constant momentum, though there is much material where they are not present except in, so to speak, potential. pres
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (45 of 71), Read 26 times Conf: Reading List From: Pres Lancaster plancast@neteze.com Date: Thursday, September 26, 2002 01:04 PM RUTH You're so right about the apple. It hadn't registered with me before, but it sure is there for the purpose of the author's sly, tongue-in-cheek comment on the action. Irony, I guess, given the outcome of the story. And that brings us to the symbolism of the tortoise. Which reminds me - are Plautus and Lightning one and the same? pres
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (46 of 71), Read 27 times Conf: Reading List From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Thursday, September 26, 2002 01:12 PM The tortoise - oh that was really funny, but what in the heck is it about? The tortoise and the hare? But how could that apply? How did they handle this one on stage? Did they use a real turtle? Ruth
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (47 of 71), Read 29 times Conf: Reading List From: Sherry Keller shkell@starband.net Date: Thursday, September 26, 2002 03:48 PM I don't think the director in my version put too much emphasis on the turtle. It wasn't alive as far as I know, but you never know with turtles. Sherry
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (48 of 71), Read 31 times Conf: Reading List From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Thursday, September 26, 2002 04:46 PM but you never know with turtles LOL Ruth
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (49 of 71), Read 34 times Conf: Reading List From: Pres Lancaster plancast@neteze.com Date: Thursday, September 26, 2002 06:51 PM A terrestrial turtle is a tortoise. You can think of Plautus/Lightning as showing the evanescence of the characters - and of Arcadia. pres
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (50 of 71), Read 38 times Conf: Reading List From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Friday, September 27, 2002 01:37 AM I took the tortoise to signify longevity since they are the longest lived animal. I thought of it as tangible evidence that there are things in nature which extend beyond a human life time. I had the same thought, Pres. The life span of tortoises in captivity has been known to extend to 150 years. If Plautus was a hatchling in 1809 he could have lived to 1959 so it's unlikely that he and Lightning were the same tortoise. Are we sure that Septimus became the hermit? I thought that the idea of the hermit came about because Thomasina drew him into the gardener's picture on a lark and later scholars only assumed that there was one. This would then be another jab at academicians. Dean All roads lead to roam.
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (51 of 71), Read 27 times Conf: Reading List From: Sherry Keller shkell@starband.net Date: Friday, September 27, 2002 07:28 AM I took that as a stab at academia, too. But I remember getting the idea that Septimus lived in the hermitage after the fire and worked (and worked and worked) on the formula that Thomasina came up with. Remember, there were pages and pages of evidence of his trying to be a computer? Sherry
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (52 of 71), Read 29 times Conf: Reading List From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Friday, September 27, 2002 11:12 AM I thought Septimus was the Hermit, too, with his hair growing wild, his fingernails long, scribbling numbers 24/7. Ruth
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (53 of 71), Read 31 times Conf: Reading List From: Dottie Randall randallj@ix.netcom.com Date: Friday, September 27, 2002 11:30 AM Hannah said the hermitage was stacked with those sheets of equations -- sounded to me like Septimus working on Thomasina's puzzle till it drove him mad just as she said Fermat's margin note was just there to make those who came after him crazy. And I liked the longevity angle regarding the turtles -- I'm partial to turtles myself -- always enjoyed standing at the wall, watching the Galapagos tortoises at the San Diego Zoo. Dottie Lady Croom: It is a defect of God's humour that he directs our hearts everywhere but to those who have a right to them. Act Two Scene Six, Arcadia, Tom Stoppard
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (54 of 71), Read 28 times Conf: Reading List From: Pres Lancaster plancast@neteze.com Date: Friday, September 27, 2002 01:52 PM Is Septimus the Sidley Park hermit? Everything that is known about the hermit in Hannah/Bernard time suggests that he is. Hannah "knows" that he is -i.e. feels it in her bones. But there is no "smoking gun". We, The Readers, know a lot more about Septimus than Hannah because we have been witness to past events. But even we have no smoking gun, only conjecture, albeit alike to Hannah's "knowing". One of the few solid clues occurs when Bernard shows Hannah the Peaks Traveller and Gazetteer (1832) which refers to the hermit's tortoise, Plautus. Readers know about Plautus from stage instructions, but characters in the play refer to him only once (I think) when Thomasina says she has drawn a picture of Septimus and Plautus. pres A lesson in folly is worth two in wisdom.
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (55 of 71), Read 22 times Conf: Reading List From: Pres Lancaster plancast@neteze.com Date: Friday, September 27, 2002 02:19 PM A coincidence: Last week I went internetting for a book of Brahms' letters that a friend had recommended to us. I finally found it at OED bookstore and listed next to it was THE LETTERS OF THOMAS LOVE PEACOCK. Haven't bought either; don't plan to. pres, who believes A lesson in folly is worth two in wisdom.
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (56 of 71), Read 24 times Conf: Reading List From: Dottie Randall randallj@ix.netcom.com Date: Friday, September 27, 2002 05:19 PM At the very end of the very last scene when Gus enters and gives the drawing of Septimus and Plautus to Hannah -- she tells him she was looking for that and thanks him and then the close of scene with Gus and Hannah dancing and Thomasina and Septimus doing likewise -- I thought must be quite effective. SO -- the question still remains -- does that drawing indicate proof the Septimus and the hermit are one and the same? The magazine is dated 1832 -- Thomasina died in 1812 -- Septimus is what? -- 24 at that time? Do the math and figure how much is guess work? I am taken back to Sherry's early post on what we truly KNOW from history -- how much is accurate and how much skewed and guesswork and doctored and so on. And, Pres, you raised Byatt's Possession early on as well -- the introductory bits of Hawthorne and -- ??? -- the poet -- name lost at the moment -- which she uses to start the book -- address the issue of history being skewed and questionable. Dottie Lady Croom: It is a defect of God's humour that he directs our hearts everywhere but to those who have a right to them. Act Two Scene Six, Arcadia, Tom Stoppard
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (57 of 71), Read 28 times Conf: Reading List From: Pres Lancaster plancast@neteze.com Date: Friday, September 27, 2002 06:40 PM Hannah to Bernard, last scene: Actually, I've got a good idea who he was, but I can't prove it. Applies to us, as well. pres, who believes A lesson in folly is worth two in wisdom.
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (58 of 71), Read 28 times Conf: Reading List From: Sheila Ash sheila_ash@lineone.net Date: Friday, September 27, 2002 07:13 PM This afternoon I took delivery of a new fireside chair – in a very traditional winged backed style – it now stands next to my stove ready for winter evenings of reading by the fire. No fires here yet, but I christened it in with a large gin and tonic and a read of Arcadia. I think this is the first time that I have read a play I have not seen since back in secondary school days. I thoroughly enjoyed this one ( thanks Theresa) and will look out for it being staged. Once I got the hang of it I didn’t have too much problem with following what was going on. I do love when the plot of a story swings between eras. I like this technique when it is employed well in books and I liked it here. I can only suspect that this comes across even better when seen in the theatre with the one room stage. I loved the comedy, even the one liners – like naming the tortoise Lightning, Brideshead Regurgitated. This lay is packed with goodies. I can imagine the dialog on stage flows very fast indeed as half the impact and poignancy of the repartee is in its speed of delivery. That must make it difficult to follow in reality, especially on first hearing. At least reading has the advantage of rereading. Did those who have seen the play hear everything first time round? The other aspect of the intertwining was that it made me think about just how much historians and archaeologists induce for their discoveries and how wrong they could be. Just like Bernard. Imagine what the historians and archaeologists in the 25th century will be saying about the remnants from our own age. I also wondered how accessible a play like this is to most people? There is a lot of intellectualism in it…science, philosophy, mathematical theorems. Would most people know what Fermat’s Last Theorem is? Or imaging mandelbrot paisley patterns on the PC screen? Then there is the publish, publish, publish phenomenon in both eras – Bernard and Hannah in today’s cut and thrust of academic and literary publishing circles, but also the comments about Chater and Byron – I can’t find the text just now but something about being or not being worthy of insulting. Lastly, I’d be intrigued to know what people think of the title, why is it called Arcadia, and what is the Arcadia referred to in the title? Just in case anyone is interested, my copy has as a frontispiece a note that Arcadia was first performed on 13th April 1993 at the Lyttelton and gives the cast, director, set designer, lighting and music directors names. It is late here which may explain this quite rambling set of jottings. Sheila
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (59 of 71), Read 26 times Conf: Reading List From: Dottie Randall randallj@ix.netcom.com Date: Friday, September 27, 2002 07:25 PM Sheila -- the chair and the G&T and this play -- sounds heavenly to me -- and the ramblings were excellent. Will respond further later. Dottie Lady Croom: It is a defect of God's humour that he directs our hearts everywhere but to those who have a right to them. Act Two Scene Six, Arcadia, Tom Stoppard
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (60 of 71), Read 23 times Conf: Reading List From: Dottie Randall randallj@ix.netcom.com Date: Friday, September 27, 2002 07:31 PM Pres -- yes but that came before she told Gus she'd been looking for that drawing -- interpretation in my mind is that she is saying the drawing is her proof. Of course she could be wrong about that but still I'm led to think she is right given that inside info which the reader/viewer has been given. Even so -- life is unprovable. Dottie Lady Croom: It is a defect of God's humour that he directs our hearts everywhere but to those who have a right to them. Act Two Scene Six, Arcadia, Tom Stoppard
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (61 of 71), Read 18 times Conf: Reading List From: Pres Lancaster plancast@neteze.com Date: Friday, September 27, 2002 08:14 PM SHEILA asks: Did those who have seen the play hear everything first time round? I certainly did not, which is no reflection on the actors. There is just so much going on, so much to be apprehended. I am looking forward to seeing the play a third time - now that I feel I have come as close to memorizing it as I ever will. (But my memory being what it is, I will not go expecting lines, but hope that I will recognize them when they occur.) I also wondered how accessible a play like this is to most people? There is a lot of intellectualism in it…science, philosophy, mathematical theorems. Would most people know what Fermat’s Last Theorem is? Or imaging mandelbrot paisley patterns on the PC screen? The two times I saw it, the audiences were very different. All seemed to enjoy themselves immensely, and I heard no remarks about "not understanding" or "what was she talking about when . . " though I am sure that a deal of the technical bits passed over the audience's head. The action and the characters provide a feast without having to know just how much of a genius Thomasina is. Incidentally, one could walk out of the theater in the first scene if one lets the assigning the proof of Fermat's Last Theorem to a thirteen year old in 1809 sink in. The audacity! The fun of it! Stoppard pokes fun at the audience, not Thomasina. (If I type Thomasina one more time, I'm going to have to use macros. BOB ?) pres, who believes A lesson in folly is worth two in wisdom.
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (62 of 71), Read 20 times Conf: Reading List From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Friday, September 27, 2002 09:11 PM I would question Hannah about her use of the word "know" when she speaks of Hodge as the hermit. Valentine was more sarcastic when he asked her "Did Bernard bite you in the leg?" (end of scene 5) There is a big difference between thinking that something is worth investigating and knowing something. Hannah risks falling into the same trap as Bernard who came up with an idea and then selected the evidence to support it. Dean All roads lead to roam.
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (63 of 71), Read 23 times Conf: Reading List From: Dottie Randall randallj@ix.netcom.com Date: Saturday, September 28, 2002 03:12 AM Dean -- I don't think any of us would disagree with that. But when she made that statement -- it was intended as one of those "I know it -- a gut feeling" things as Pres pointed out. I am saying that Stoppard in his play would have us perhaps follow her to that conclusion -- the point is that having led us there he does so in such a way that even though we may choose to "think" she is correct -- we know with our intellect that she -- like Bernard as you rightly point out -- is perhaps tweaking history and fact with a bit of wishing. The entire point is that we don't know. We don't know a far, far greater amount than we do know. Did I mention yet how much I loved reading this play? And thanks to one and all for the thoughtful informative posts along the way. This one was good medicine as is most reading which speaks deeply to a person. Dottie Lady Croom: It is a defect of God's humour that he directs our hearts everywhere but to those who have a right to them. Act Two Scene Six, Arcadia, Tom Stoppard
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (64 of 71), Read 19 times Conf: Reading List From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com Date: Saturday, September 28, 2002 10:01 AM Sheila, I loved that visual picture of you reading Arcadia as well. I assumed that Hannah saying that she "just knew" that Septimus was the hermit was another bit of delicious Stoppard irony. She has watched Bernard "just know" and rearrange the limited evidence to support his faulty theory. Now, she is on the way to do the very same thing. I would assume that there are so many layers in this play that it could be enjoyed without understanding all of them. I certainly missed many things in my reading of it that were explicated here and still loved it. And, I'd like to repeat Sheila's question. I am so lacking in my classical education that I know nothing about the meaning of Arcadia. Could someone here inform us? Barb
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (65 of 71), Read 23 times Conf: Reading List From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Saturday, September 28, 2002 11:37 AM It actually was a region of ancient Greece, but it has come to be used as a term for a paradise-like place. Hence that painting (and others) that use "Et in Arcadio Ego," usually translated as something like "even in Arcadia, I am," the "I" meaning death. Ritj
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (66 of 71), Read 19 times Conf: Reading List From: Pres Lancaster plancast@neteze.com Date: Saturday, September 28, 2002 06:21 PM http://www.parnasse.com/etpnt.htm pres, who believes A lesson in folly is worth two in wisdom.
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (67 of 71), Read 17 times Conf: Reading List From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Saturday, September 28, 2002 06:38 PM I agree with that translation, Ruth. Here is a site which gives a bit of history about Arcadia as a location and a concept. http://www.parnasse.com/etpnt.htm Dean All roads lead to roam.
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (68 of 71), Read 21 times Conf: Reading List From: Pres Lancaster plancast@neteze.com Date: Saturday, September 28, 2002 06:41 PM http://math.bu.edu/DYSYS/arcadia/index.html pres, who believes A lesson in folly is worth two in wisdom.
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (69 of 71), Read 20 times Conf: Reading List From: Pres Lancaster plancast@neteze.com Date: Saturday, September 28, 2002 06:51 PM http://www.oldarcadia.com/ pres, who believes A lesson in folly is worth two in wisdom.
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (70 of 71), Read 19 times Conf: Reading List From: Pres Lancaster plancast@neteze.com Date: Saturday, September 28, 2002 07:14 PM http://www.arcadialodge.com/ pres, who believes A lesson in folly is worth two in wisdom.
Topic: ARCADIA by Tom Stoppard (71 of 71), Read 13 times Conf: Reading List From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com Date: Sunday, September 29, 2002 07:16 PM Thank you, Ruth, that makes sense. And, thank you to Pres and Dean for the links. I have a bit of reading to do here. Barb

 

 

For well over thirty years, Tom Stoppard has consistently held his position as one of England's most admired dramatists. And for this edition of Faber Critical Guides, Jim Hunter examines four of Stoppard's finest works in the context of his entire oeuvre. Hunter writes, "Stoppard's plays present a unique interplay between fun today and the most basic and serious challenges to human understanding. He writes jokes and comic routines; but at the same time he is also writing about moral responsibility, about goodness, and about our scientific, mathematical, or philosophical understanding of reality."

 
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