In ‘Tom Stopard’, Hermine Lee poses a new challenge: a living theme

Lee’s 97-year-old father read that part of the book before he died and explained that it was not written in his usual style. “She was always my hard critic,” he said, and added, laughing, “I could never work out whether it was a compliment or a criticism. Anyway, the plan was that I really wanted it Share and come along. You leave on the journey and leave. “

The rest of the book describes a life of extraordinary busyness, with Stopard not only writing (and rewriting and rewriting), but also working on committees, immersing himself in the politics of Eastern Europe, Hollywood. Working for – and not only on – films. Know his name like “Shakespeare in Love” and “Son of Empire”. He also worked on unlikely projects such as “The Bourne Ultimatum”, “Sleepy Hollow” and “102 Dalmatian” – without credit but unproven payment. The book has stretches when he takes Concord back and forth across the Atlantic as if he were a cab.

To judge from British reviews, some readers picked up “Tom Stopped: A Life” just for gossip: parties; Friends; Fonds such as Prince Charles, Princess Margaret, Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, Mick Jagger and David Bowie; Three marriages; A love affair, including a not-so-secret one, with Jeremy Iron’s wife Sinead Cusack. There were other people who gave up that stuff and wanted to read Isaiah Berlin’s “The Coast of Utopia” instead of all.

“I think I always felt it was a kind of double statement,” Lee said. “I’d rather be boring than flawed. I could think well of people saying, ‘Do you really have to go about plays of such length?’ I wanted to make people feel like they were reading books, like they were reading books, or watching them. I was also trying to do myself a service, in my mind these plays Clarifying and trying to understand how he worked in his life at that time. “

Over the years, Lee has thought a lot about biography, and even how much, ironically, she would oppose anyone’s idea of ​​writing Her life. In her brief book “Biography: A Very Short Introduction”, a kind of biography, she argues that in some ways the form is less developed than we thought, and the same questions continue to arise about responsibilities and limitations. . Form. “I know full well that there are many things we cannot know,” she said. “I’m sure there are one or two cases in Tom’s case that I don’t know about which nobody knows. And maybe no one will even know. I like that, really.”

He said he already had a new topic on his mind – “just a glimpse of me, though, and I’m talking about it very soon.” But he gave three clues to the volunteers. Is not a man Not a playwright. And, yes, dead.

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