Jozef Imrich, name worthy of Kafka, has his finger on the pulse of any irony of interest and shares his findings to keep you in-the-know with the savviest trend setters and infomaniacs.
''I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center.''
Stoppard can’t write women? He gives us Night and Day. Emotion? The Real Thing. Competitiveness is evidently one of the many sources of his creativity, albeit competitiveness of a patient, five-day-test-match kind. He worries quite a lot about the amount of time he spends writing and revising a play. ‘If the next gap is as long as the last one,’ he said in 2017, ‘I will be 103 and no doubt ready with blue pencil and blue-black ink as usual.’ – Literary Review
This authorised biography is a flattering but essential portrait of one of the great playwrights of our age
The first thing he remembers, he thinks, comes from the winter of 1940 or 1941, when he was three or four.” Hermione Lee’s new biography of Tom Stoppard introduces us to the playwright as if intruding on a half-glimpsed memory. He is Czech, perhaps Jewish, likely already in exile in Singapore. “He was Tomáš, or Tomik, Sträussler.” He was to become Sir Tom Stoppard, OM CBE FRSL. His medic father, Eugen Sträussler, would die fleeing the Fall of Singapore. Eugen’s wife Marta had gone ahead to India with their two boys, where she would later meet and marry Major Kenneth Stoppard.
Lee is no real intruder. For seven years she has shadowed Stoppard’s life, and the result is a scrupulously authorised biography. It suffers from the usual drawbacks that come with such access: Lee minimises Stoppard’s flaws, raves over his literary work and obsesses about his “gorgeous-looking” youthful appearance. In return she gets to reveal a cornucopia of personal notebooks, literary letters, and even early love poems, shedding unprecedented light on one of the great names of a generation.
We watch Stoppard emerge as the playwright of “wit and dazzle” — his favourite subjects are poets and scientists, especially if they can crack wise about philosophy — but eventually gain equal recognition for his “depth and humanity”. Tom Stoppard: A Life will be on the Christmas list of every serious theatregoer. It leaves Ira Nadel’s 2001 biography Double Act, which Stoppard scorned, in the dust.
InThe Invention of Love, Tom Stoppard has his Oscar Wilde character describe biography as “the mesh through which our real life escapes”. Quoting that line in his biography (twice) is a nice touch. Almost 1,000 pages is a lot of mesh, and it’s best not to press too hard on what might be meant by “our real life”: in Stoppardia, such questions tend to lead to long speeches about chaos theory.