Thursday, November 30, 2006

Just some of the reasons why I admire Tom Stoppard.
Stoppard strikes me as an inveterately bookish man, one more passionately taken up with the life of the mind than with his aversion to being mistaken for a Serious Issues kind of playwright would indicate. Many years ago, in an article in The Sunday Times of London, Stoppard noted: “Some writers write because they burn with a cause which they further by writing about it. I burn with no causes. I cannot say that I write with any social objective. One writes because one loves writing, really.” In the almost 40 years since he made this remark, Stoppard has moved toward exhibiting a greater show of ideological esprit de corps — he took up the cudgels on behalf of Vaclav Havel when he was imprisoned in the late 70s and wrote a play during the same period that explored the psychiatric abuse of political dissidents in the Soviet Union, “Every Good Boy Deserves Favor” — but he continues to remain relatively aloof from the fray. Among other things, he has made no bones about his conservative temperament (when Margaret Thatcher came to power, he was one of the few among Britain’s left-leaning intelligentsia to see light at the end of the tunnel), which has led some observers to dismiss him as elitist. What is clear is that unlike, say, David Hare or the latter-day Harold Pinter, Stoppard is unwilling to hand down moral pronouncements by way of his plays about the absolute rightness or wrongness of one position or cause over another.

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