Stoppard, Sir Thomas

▪ 1998

      Few playwrights had been as celebrated for their virtuoso command of the English language as Czech-born dramatist Tom Stoppard. A master of the "serious comedy," he had captivated theatregoers for more than 30 years with his plays of ideas. When The Invention of Love captured the London Evening Standard award for best play in November 1997, it marked the seventh time that Stoppard—also a three-time Tony award winner—had been presented with the honour and was the culmination of a year in which he had received (in June) the personal honour of a knighthood.

      Born July 3, 1937, in Zlin, Czech. (now Czech Republic), Tomas Straussler was the youngest son of a company physician who was transferred to Singapore in 1939. When the Japanese attacked Singapore in 1941, Straussler remained there and was killed, whereas his wife and two sons fled to India. In 1946 his widow married a British army officer, who moved the family to Bristol, Eng. At age 17, after taking his stepfather's name, Stoppard launched a career in journalism. Working first in Bristol (1954-60) and later in London, he wrote theatre and film criticism among other assignments. In the 1960s Stoppard wrote his first play, A Walk on the Water, as well as several short radio plays and short stories. A novel, Lord Malquist and Mr. Moon, was published in 1966. His big break came the following year when a National Theatre production of his play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead enjoyed wide acclaim. Based on two minor characters in Shakespeare's Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern became a classic of modern theatre and established a pattern of borrowing from history and literature that would become one of Stoppard's trademarks.

      Unlike the works of many of his British contemporaries, Stoppard's early plays were not concerned with politics or class conflict. Instead, he became a master of witty wordplay and comic invention, through which he examined the myriad contradictions of experience and philosophy. Even as he was occasionally criticized for writing plays that lacked emotion or creating characters that existed primarily as mouthpieces for the his wide-ranging intellectual preoccupations, Stoppard created an astounding body of work that was as entertaining as it was enlightening. Outstanding works included Jumpers (1972), a metaphysical whodunnit; Travesties (1974), one man's account of V.I. Lenin, James Joyce, and Dadaist poet Tristan Tzara in 1917 Zürich, Switz.; Every Good Boy Deserves Favour (1977), his first political play; The Real Thing (1982), a romantic comedy about art and marriage; and Arcadia (1993), which brought together Fermat's Last Theorem, chaos theory, landscape architecture, and Lord Byron. Stoppard also wrote screenplays, notably for Brazil (1986) and Empire of the Sun (1987), and wrote and directed the 1991 film version of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. It was the plays, however—the mounting of which had become national cultural occasions in Britain—for which he would be remembered.

JEFF WALLENFELDT

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • sir — /serr/, n. 1. a respectful or formal term of address used to a man: No, sir. 2. (cap.) the distinctive title of a knight or baronet: Sir Walter Scott. 3. (cap.) a title of respect for some notable personage of ancient times: Sir Pandarus of Troy …   Universalium

  • Stoppard — noun British dramatist (born in Czechoslovakia in 1937) • Syn: ↑Tom Stoppard, ↑Sir Tom Stoppard, ↑Thomas Straussler • Instance Hypernyms: ↑dramatist, ↑playwright …   Useful english dictionary

  • Thomas Straussler — noun British dramatist (born in Czechoslovakia in 1937) • Syn: ↑Stoppard, ↑Tom Stoppard, ↑Sir Tom Stoppard • Instance Hypernyms: ↑dramatist, ↑playwright …   Useful english dictionary

  • Stoppard —   [ stɔpəd], Sir (seit 1997) Tom, ursprünglich Thomas Straussler [str ], englischer Dramatiker tschechischer Herkunft, * Zlín 3. 7. 1937; aus jüdischer Familie, die 1939 nach Singapur flüchtete; Stoppard, der infolge der Heirat seiner Mutter mit… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Sir Tom Stoppard — noun British dramatist (born in Czechoslovakia in 1937) • Syn: ↑Stoppard, ↑Tom Stoppard, ↑Thomas Straussler • Instance Hypernyms: ↑dramatist, ↑playwright …   Useful english dictionary

  • Tom Stoppard — noun British dramatist (born in Czechoslovakia in 1937) • Syn: ↑Stoppard, ↑Sir Tom Stoppard, ↑Thomas Straussler • Instance Hypernyms: ↑dramatist, ↑playwright …   Useful english dictionary

  • Tom Stoppard — (2007) Sir Tom Stoppard OM, CBE (* 3. Juli 1937 in Zlín, Tschechoslowakei) ist ein britischer Dramatiker, der berühmt ist für seine Stücke wie The Real Thing und Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead sowie für das …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • performing arts — arts or skills that require public performance, as acting, singing, or dancing. [1945 50] * * * ▪ 2009 Introduction Music Classical.       The last vestiges of the Cold War seemed to thaw for a moment on Feb. 26, 2008, when the unfamiliar strains …   Universalium

  • English literature — Introduction       the body of written works produced in the English language by inhabitants of the British Isles (including Ireland) from the 7th century to the present day. The major literatures written in English outside the British Isles are… …   Universalium

  • ANGLAISE (LITTÉRATURE) — Toute histoire littéraire sous entend une perspective et la perspective a rapport au temps présent, le passé étant vu en fonction de problèmes contemporains; ainsi, maint écrivain dont le nom est consacré dans le panthéon des célébrités peut se… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.