7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 21 October 2003
Tom Stoppard is not the easiest of biographical subject, having been elusive in point of view, and non-communicative on his personal life; but with an exhaustive list of references, Ira Nadel's 'Double Life: A Life of Tom Stoppard' offers a much closer glimpse of the man than might be expected.
The early chapters covering his family's flight from both the Nazi's in Czechoslovakia, then the Japanese in Singapore, prove gripping and emotive. A leaner account follows of his early years in England, before a strong analysis of his life and work since his early days in journalism, along with his campaigning for release of political prisoners in the 1970s and 1980s. The analysis of his radio, theatre and film work is an excellent look at perhaps the most imaginative dramatist of the last 40 years.
However, Nadel has been unable to reach beyond the headlines on Stoppard's private life, and rather like his subject proves cautious in revealing his personal stance. The author makes much of the threads he does draw on Stoppard's work, and accompanies this with some over-repetitious quoting from the plays. Furthermore it is a shame that the text ends just before his most ambitious work, the Coast of Utopia trilogy, is produced.
But as an account of Stoppard's writings and their development, this biography is hugely enjoyable and enlightening. Nadel has collated a wealth of material, and has memorably shed light on Stoppard's childhood years. An accomplished and professional work.