im_writing (im_writing) wrote in bookish,
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Another book I read in 2010

This is one of the things I read in high school that just never left me.  I would love to see a live performance of it.


Also, I just finished The Weird Sisters, and I absolutely can't wait to tell you how absolutely fabulous it was.




Title: Rosencrantz and Guildernstern are Dead by David Tom Stoppard
Rating:  4/5
Pages: 128
Genre:  Satire

Summary (off Goodreads): Acclaimed as a modern dramatic masterpiece, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is the fabulously inventive tale of Hamlet as told from the worm's-eye view of the bewildered Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two minor characters in Shakespeare's play. In Tom Stoppard's best-known work, this Shakespearean Laurel and Hardy finally get a chance to take the lead role, but do so in a world where echoes of Waiting for Godot resound, where reality and illusion intermix, and where fate leads our two heroes to a tragic but inevitable end.


Tom Stoppard manages to take Shakespeare and make him a little more modern. I remember reading this book when I was in high school and loving it. It was funny and entertaining even then. However, reading it a second time when I was older gave me a lot of different insights that I didn’t pick up on the first time.

There are a lot of times that Stoppard just puts into words things that happen to us in the everyday. For instance, at one point, Guildenstern mentions that you forget to spell words like “Wife” even though you spelled them a million times before. It’s something that’s happened to all of us, yet no one really knows why it happens.

The first time I read this book I also really missed how much Stoppard plays with the idea that the audience knows the ending but the characters do not. One of the characters makes a reference about “keeping [them] from losing [their] heads” which is interesting since we know, in fact, that they do lose their heads. And we’re not really sure whether it’s a literal or figurative use of the phrase “lose our heads.”

Stoppard also breaks the fourth wall a lot, which I always think is cool. I like when authors take that step out of the box because sometimes it goes really well and other times it ends tragically. Stoppard utilizes this technique beautifully because he has two characters who lend themselves to that kind of humor. The addressing of the audience works wonderfully in conjunction with the rest of the play.

Some of the philosophy that he addresses in this play is also mindboggling. I love how Stoppard manages to be both humorous and serious at the same time. At one point we have the line, “Death followed by eternity… the worst of both worlds.” I like that it only took one line for the reader to learn about Stoppard’s view on the afterlife: that it could be a terrible thing, this endless life that we may hate.

The idea of fate also plays a large role in this play. Could Rosencrantz and Guildenstern have avoided their deaths? If they had done something differently, could they have lived or were they doomed to die from page one? Can any of us avoid fate or are we doomed to follow a path from the first step? Stoppard doesn’t really answer that question. At one point he says, “we’ve travelled too far, and our momentum has taken over; we move idly towards eternity, without possibility of reprieve or hope of explanation,” giving us the indication that we don’t really have a lot of choice; we just go.

But the interesting thing is he also says, “There must have been a moment, at the beginning, where we could have said-no. But somehow we missed it.” He really gives us the choice of either, which maybe is saying something in and of itself.

If you enjoy plays and something that’s really going to make you think, I would recommend picking up this play. However, if you have not read Hamlet, it will confuse you. If you have, it’s a funny, entertaining but interesting sister play to the original.

You can read this review and all other at im_writing  or my Goodreads account.
Books so far this year:
6
Currently Reading:
The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson and Married with Zombies by Jesse Petersen


Edit: Sorry about the YA lit!  I copy/paste the format from my LJ and I forgot to change the genre. XD
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