Quotations by Stoppard, Tom


Skill without imagination is craftsmanship and gives us many useful objects such as wickerwork picnic baskets. Imagination without skill gives us modern art.

Tom Stoppard (b. 1937) Czech-English playwright and screenwriter
Artist Descending a Staircase (1972)
Added on 30-Jun-10 | Last updated 24-Jun-14
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GEORGE: There is presumably a calendar date — a moment — when the onus of proof passed from the atheist to the believer, when, quite suddenly, secretly, the noes had it.

Tom Stoppard (b. 1937) Czech-English playwright and screenwriter
Jumpers, Act 1 (1972)
Added on 26-Sep-14 | Last updated 26-Sep-14
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DOTTY: It’s not the voting that’s democracy, it’s the counting.

Tom Stoppard (b. 1937) Czech-English playwright and screenwriter
Jumpers, Act I (1972)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 29-Sep-09
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DOTTY: Archie says the Church is a monument to irrationality.
GEORGE: … The National Gallery is a monument to irrationality! Every concert hall is a monument to irrationality! — and so is a nicely kept garden, or a lover’s favour, or a home for stray dogs! You stupid woman, if rationality were the criterion for things being allowed to exist, the world would be one gigantic field of soya beans!

Tom Stoppard (b. 1937) Czech-English playwright and screenwriter
Jumpers, Act I (1972)
Added on 7-Jul-10 | Last updated 7-Jul-10
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Revolution is a trivial shift in the emphasis of suffering; the capacity for self-indulgence changes hands.

Tom Stoppard (b. 1937) Czech-English playwright and screenwriter
Lord Malquist and Mr Moon, ch. 1 “Dramatis Personae and Other Coincidences” (1966)
Added on 9-Jun-10 | Last updated 9-Jun-10
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Since we cannot hope for order let us withdraw with style from the chaos.

Tom Stoppard (b. 1937) Czech-English playwright and screenwriter
Lord Malquist and Mr Moon, ch. 1 “Dramatis Personae and Other Coincidences” (1966)
Added on 12-Sep-14 | Last updated 12-Sep-14
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My whole life is waiting for the questions to which I have prepared answers.

Tom Stoppard (b. 1937) Czech-English playwright and screenwriter
Lord Malquist and Mr Moon, ch. 2 “A Couple of Deaths and Exits” (1966)
Added on 2-Jun-10 | Last updated 2-Jun-10
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My whole life is waiting for the questions to which I have prepared answers.

Tom Stoppard (b. 1937) Czech-English playwright and screenwriter
Lord Malquist and Mr Moon, ch. 2 “A Couple of Deaths and Exits” (1966)
Added on 19-Sep-14 | Last updated 19-Sep-14
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MILNE: No matter how imperfect things are, if you’ve got a free press everything is correctable, and without it everything is concealable.
RUTH: I’m with you on the free press. It’s the newspapers I can’t stand.

Tom Stoppard (b. 1937) Czech-English playwright and screenwriter
Night and Day, Act 1 (1978)
Added on 17-Oct-14 | Last updated 17-Oct-14
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MILNE: Junk journalism is the evidence of a society that has got at least one thing right, that there should be nobody with the power to dictate where responsible journalism begins.

Tom Stoppard (b. 1937) Czech-English playwright and screenwriter
Night and Day, Act 1 (1978)
Added on 24-Oct-14 | Last updated 24-Oct-14
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ROSENCRANTZ: Eternity is a terrible thought. I mean, where’s it going to end?

Tom Stoppard (b. 1937) Czech-English playwright and screenwriter
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Act II (1967)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 29-Sep-09
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BAKUNIN: Left to themselves people are noble, generous, uncorrupted. They’d create a completely new kind of society if only people weren’t so blind, stupid and selfish.
HERZEN: Is that the same people or different people?
BAKUNIN: The same people.

Tom Stoppard (b. 1937) Czech-English playwright and screenwriter
The Coast of Utopia: Salvage (2002)
Added on 7-Nov-14 | Last updated 7-Nov-14
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HENRY: I don’t think writers are sacred, but words are. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you might nudge the world a little or make a poem that children will speak for you when you are dead.

Tom Stoppard (b. 1937) Czech-English playwright and screenwriter
The Real Thing, Act 2, sc. 5 (1982)
Added on 31-Oct-14 | Last updated 31-Oct-14
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HENRY: Buddy Holly was twenty-two. Think of what he might have gone on to achieve. I mean, if Beethoven had been killed in a plane crash at twenty-two, the history of music would have been very different. As would the history of aviation, of course.

Tom Stoppard (b. 1937) Czech-English playwright and screenwriter
The Real Thing, Act II, sc. 5 (1982)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 29-Sep-09
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I don’t think writers are sacred, but words are. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you might nudge the world a little or make a poem that children will speak for you when you are dead.

Tom Stoppard (b. 1937) Czech-English playwright and screenwriter
The Real Thing, Act II, sc. v [Henry] (1982)
Added on 24-Dec-09 | Last updated 24-Dec-09
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JOYCE: An artist is the magician put among men to gratify — capriciously — their urge for immortality. The temples are built and brought down around him, continuously and contiguously, from Troy to the fields of Flanders. If there is any meaning in any of it, it is in what survives as art, yes even in the celebration of tyrants, yes even in the celebration of nonentities. What now of the Trojan War if it had been passed over by the artist’s touch? Dust. A forgotten expedition prompted by Greek merchants looking for new markets. A minor redistribution of broken pots. But it is we who stand enriched, by a tale of heroes, of a golden apple, a wooden horse, a face that launched a thousand ships —– and above all, of Ulysses, the wanderer, the most human, the most complete of all heroes — husband, father, son, lover, farmer, soldier, pacifist, politician, inventor and adventurer.

Tom Stoppard (b. 1937) Czech-English playwright and screenwriter
Travesties. Act 1 (1974)

Stoppard called this "the most important" speech in the play.
Added on 3-Oct-14 | Last updated 3-Oct-14
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I began my talk by saying that I had not written my plays for purposes of discussion. At once, I felt a ripple of panic run through the hall. I suddenly realized why. To everyone present, discussion was the whole point of drama. That was why the faculty had been endowed — that was why all those buildings had been put up! I had undermined the entire reason for their existence.

Tom Stoppard (b. 1937) Czech-English playwright and screenwriter
In Kenneth Tynan, “Tom Stoppard,” New Yorker (19 Dec 1977)
Added on 14-Jul-10 | Last updated 14-Jul-10
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I began my talk by saying that I had not written my plays for purposes of discussion. At once, I felt a ripple of panic run through the hall. I suddenly realised why. To everyone present, discussion was the whole point of drama. That was why the faculty had been endowed — that was why all those buildings had been put up! I had undermined the entire reason for their existence.

Tom Stoppard (b. 1937) Czech-English playwright and screenwriter
In Kenneth Tynan, “Tom Stoppard,” The New Yorker (19 Dec 1977)
Added on 21-Nov-14 | Last updated 21-Nov-14
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