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The Invention of Love Paperback – 6 Oct 1997

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Product details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; First Edition edition (6 Oct. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571192718
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571192717
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 0.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 156,951 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

Tom Stoppard's play The Invention of Love, set on the Styx across which A. E. Housman is being ferried, soon draws in his memories of an Oxford University in which an Irish student called Wilde is preparing to burst on to the scene . . .

About the Author

Tom Stoppard's work includes Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, The Real Inspector Hound, Jumpers, Travesties, Night and Day, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, After Magritte, Dirty Linen, The Real Thing, Hapgood, Arcadia, Indian Ink, The Invention of Love, the trilogy The Coast of Utopia and Rock 'n' Roll. His radio plays include If You're Glad I'll Be Frank, Albert's Bridge, Where Are They Now?, Artist Descending a Staircase, The Dog It Was That Died, In the Native State and Darkside (incorporating Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon). Television work includes Professional Foul, Squaring the Circle and Parade's End. His film credits include Empire of the Sun, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, which he also directed, Shakespeare in Love, Enigma and Anna Karenina.

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 14 Dec. 1998
Format: Hardcover
As the play begins, A.E. Housman-- that most classical of English lyric poets-- has just died and is being escorted by Charon to the Underworld. As they cross the River Styx, Housman sees his earlier self in a boat with his collegiate friends, and thus "The Invention of Love" is set into motion. Discussions of scholarship and literature, including Housman's wickedly astute jibes at his less able classical "peers," ensue, as does Stoppard's exploration of Housman's presumed homosexuality, which threatens to swamp the second act with a sort of too earnest apologia for "Greek love." Nevertheless, the play is often laugh-out-loud funny, and the intellectual currents running through it would power a dozen American dramas. Definitely a must-have, and a worthy sequel to "Arcadia."
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Kimmich Mathias on 31 Oct. 2001
Format: Paperback
After reading and seeing on stage Tom Stoppard's masterpiece Arcadia, I went on a Stoppard reading spree, ending on The Invention of Love, a difficult play that is definitely less approachable at a first glance than for instance The Real Thing. However, it is a play that rewards closer attention, and the writing - as always - is wonderful. All in all, The Invention of Love is a beautiful and moving elegiac play about a man who couldn't (or wouldn't) let himself live his love.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By john rowntree on 17 Oct. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great play, really funny and clever!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 21 reviews
40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
A play to READ before and after seeing it 1 Aug. 1998
By Janos Gereben - Published on
Format: Paperback
Time is relative in Tom Stoppard's "The Invention of Love." One the one hand, it's a dazzling three-hour journey of many characters and ideas through the years (1859-1936) of A. E. Housman's life; on the other, it's a split second between the moment of the poet's realization of his death on the banks of the river Styx -- "I'm dead, then. Good." -- and his true, cathartic acceptance of it: "How lucky to find myself standing on this empty shore, with the indifferent waters at my feet.
Both a large-scale symphony and delicate chamber music, "Invention" requires thorough understanding of Greek and Latin poetry, the intricacies of the 19th Century academic, social and literary scene, even of the Labouchere amendment to the Criminal Law Act that landed Oscar Wilde in jail - and it allows being dazzled and moved without knowing anything about all that. The play works both on the level of seeing "characters in a play" or appr! eciating (as I couldn't possibly without another lifetime of learning) the full significance of the presence of Walter Pater, John Ruskin, Frank Harris, Jerome K. Jerome... of three generations of famed scholars at Oxford and Cambridge.
Here is the "late Stoppard," the Stoppard of "Arcadia" in his full glory of intellectual brilliance and rich emotional simplicity. Here is a play requiring, demanding, allowing re-reading and re-viewing, a work that keeps growing within the reader, the viewer, culminating in hoped-for (and, in my case, yet unattained) appreciation and understanding, even as old man Housman experiences in breathtaking scenes of conversations by the Styx with his younger self.
In the tiny black rectangle of the Cottlesloe, under Richard Eyre's farewell direction after a decade at the head of the National, "Invention" worked brilliantly, presented by a surprisingly large and uniformly excellent cast, headed by John Wo! od's old Housman and PaulRhys' young one. From Housman's et! ymological exasperation with all the talk about the Wilde controversy ("Homosexuality? What barbarity! It's half Greek and half Latin!") to mindboggling discussions about the role of a comma, to a mini-essay about who "invented" the love elegy (Catullus or Gallus, based on the single surviving line from the work of the latter), the play may be seen as one in the long line of the Clever Stoppard -- "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern," "Jumpers," "The Real Thing" and "Hapgood" - but it is also assuredly in the category of the Great Stoppard of today.
Still, with all the rich complexity and wonderful timewarps that have characterized both plays, may "Invention" by called another "Arcadia"? I don't think so, but the very question may be moot. Both similar and different, the two plays form the foundation of the triumphal arch for a playwright who has progressed on a dislocated time-scale from the fire! works of Wilde to the steady, bright, warm light still shining across two millenia from the poets of Housman's scholarship and passion.
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant and Luminous, Stoppard at his Best 19 Oct. 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
The Invention of Love, in my opinion, Tom Stoppard's best play, opens with A.E. Housman being ferried across the River Styx by Charon, relieved to be dead at last. Or is he? Perhaps he is only dreaming from his bed in a rest home. One of the things that makes The Invention of Love so outstanding is Stoppard's wonderful mix of fantasy and reality. He combines the two so well, in fact, that we're never quite sure which is which. There are luminous scenes of young men rowing down the Thames to Hades, a marvelous Thameside encounter between the youthful Housman and his older self and an almost transcendent conclusion showing Housman stepping off-shore onto a watery-looking stage.
The Invention of Love successfully combines elements from Stoppard's previous plays: the wit and cleverness of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead with the emotional richness and intensity of The Real Thing to the purity of Arcadia. This is, however, a slower, more meditative and contemplative Stoppard. Even the flamboyant Oscar Wilde is presented in a toned-downed, rather Housmanesque style.
The script, itself, although erudite and intellectual, is so opulently rich in imagery and language (yes, there is a lot of Latin) that we, as an audience, are forced to be attentive. Stoppard rewards us handsomely, though, as we become increasingly aware that certain things (rivers, Hades, dogs, love, inventions, inversions, three men in a boat) circle and then loop back and circle again and again.
Those who think Housman's scholarliness might seem dull couldn't be more wrong. It is, instead, the very essence of this marvelous play. Stoppard uses lost Greek plays and corrupted Latin texts like the master he is. And he delivers a poignant message: Even great art contains within itself the seed of its own mortality. Although the artist (in this case, Housman) strives to produce a coherent and hopefully, immortal, body of work, time, itself, eventually leeches almost everything away until only fragments remain. This is a powerful message, to be sure, but in The Invention of Love, it is one that is both comforting and melancholy and sadly, we come to realize, all too true.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Devastating and moving play about love and devotion... 1 May 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
It's a hard play to read, an easy one to see, and worthwhile in each case. As much wit as may be expected from the writer of Shakespeare in Love (in fact, some of the same jokes) but more depth. Houseman the scholar is devoted to fine translations of classical poetry; Houseman the man is devoted to his friend in an unrequited and hopeless passion, and to expressing the passion in glorious verse.
Oh, and it all takes place in the afterlife. The dead, older Houseman encountering his younger, buoyant self at Oxford is almost too gloriously terrible to take.
Yes, it's erudite. But then this is if you're here, you love books.... and just think of the books you'll want to read after reading this (Pater, Ruskin, Wilde...)
I was so moved when I saw it I could barely breather afterwards.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
A *must* before seeing the play 28 April 2000
By "mwv" - Published on
Format: Paperback
I bought it to get ready to attend the SF showing, which I had to miss, so the best experience still awaits me. It was well-reviewed, and I must see it eventually, now that I have read it. I found this play complex and absorbing, with a richness that requires multiple readings and research to understand all the references and to make sense of the characters' interactions and all the flashbacks.
There is a lot of Latin in the play, and understanding it helps - that is one reason I appreciated having the text to reread and pour over. The dialogue with Housman and Jackson, and with his younger self, is wonderful. The humor is just so well done - it skims along on top of the pain underneath it. This is a risky play, and a fine one.
However, for readers or people looking for something lighter, this is *not* as good a pure read as Arcadia; it is more meaty and introspective. I think it is an experience than no Stoppard fan would want to miss.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
The best Stoppard yet 26 Sept. 2001
By Mark R. Chartrand - Published on
Format: Paperback
As in many of his recent plays, Stoppard plays with and juxtaposes two eras, but this one has more humanity and depth of character than even Arcadia. This is only the second Stoppard play during which I have found myself, at various times, smiling broadly, laughing, and weeping. It contains several little bon mots that epitomize not only the action, but larger issues. For example, at one point a character askes another if he wants to do something. The other replies "I don't mind." The first ripostes "But you should: life is in the minding." (approximate quote)Some reviewers have been put off by the fact there are brief lines in classical Greek and in Latin. These are always explained, or their content is not relevant to the plot, but they do add to the sense of deep scholarship and love of learning that pervade this play. Anyone who cares about learning, individual freedom, and the lifelong development of character will appreciate this play. And it will keep you thinking what it would be like to apply the central device of the play to your own life: what person more than a couple decades old would not like to go back and anonymously meet his younger self?! What would you say?
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