Huge Anniversary for Theatre, Film and Literature

Much thanks to LitHub for celebrating this today:

A major step forward for storytelling in any form.

A Czech refugee working in theater in England, Stoppard had been playing with language and writing metatexts for years, but without intellectual pretense — he came up in a theater full of demanding audiences who needed to be entertained, not lectured to. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead realized the best of this, with a fun riff on Hamlet and Waiting for Godot and mathematics and probability that’s genuinely touching and funny. It’s a rare achievement in art.

A low budget film version, starring Tim Roth and Gary Oldman helped usher in a vital 90s independent film movement and put Stoppard in a good position to write Shakespeare in Love another classic from the time.

Meanwhile, Stoppard became ever more ambitious in theater, perhaps topping R&G with the expansive Coast of Utopia trilogy and the fantastic Rock’n’Roll.

Happy Rosencrantz and Guildenstern day to you all!

The Search for William Troy

William Troy was, says the editor of the only book of his collected lectures and essays, a towering critic of the 30s, 40s and 50s. He wrote many book and film reviews for The Nation, but no books of his own.

I’m reading the collection William Troy: Selected Essays slowly. It’s long out of print but very gettable. His style is expert and delightful. He’s fighting, at this point of history, for literature to be enjoyed and interpreted as art, rather than subjected to the sorts of inappropriate scientific methods that have since subjugated the critical appreciation of the creative arts to some mad quest to view everything within the context of the social and economic sciences, if not even to physics and chemistry.

You Can Find This on Abe Books!

Here he is on the growing popularity of Henry James:

“At a moment where loss of continuity is our gravest threat, when personality is everywhere at a discount, when all consequent values dissolve in general terror, it is probably no great wonder that more and more people are turning to Henry James.”

Troy celebrates clarity in art and it’s darned refreshing.

Quantity not quality of Content

“Why don’t we just call them stories?” said an editor of mine, back in the day when journalists could still make a living and when pushing back against the word “content,” as another example of mangled corporatese to be discarded along with “synergies” and the phrase “out of the box” made sense.

I think he’s in the content biz now, and I’ve spent some time there myself.

The answer, of course, is that “content” and “stories” are very different things. A story has structure, Jungian significance and quality. Content can be any old thing from the self-justifying ramblings of a hedge fund manager to the self-justifying ramblings of their flacks to the self-justifying ramblings of bankers to cat videos.

And it’s taking over the world.

That’s a lot of Tik Toks!

That’s right, not just our minds, but the physical world.

What we need, though, are more stories.

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