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星期四, 6月 01, 2017

Stoppard Classics, Reborn for an Age of Uncertainty預言困惑時代 史達帕名劇重生

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2017/06/09 第174期 訂閱/退訂看歷史報份
紐時周報精選 Stoppard Classics, Reborn for an Age of Uncertainty預言困惑時代 史達帕名劇重生
That Wasn't Twain: How a Misquotation Is Born揭開錯誤引文的面紗
Stoppard Classics, Reborn for an Age of Uncertainty預言困惑時代 史達帕名劇重生
文/Ben Brantley

Like many people in this discombobulating era of Brexit, the addled young man on the boat isn't sure exactly what the country known as England is, or if it even exists. "I mean I don't believe in it!" he says. Trying to imagine that island nation, he finds that "I have no image."

So speaks one of the title characters in David Leveaux's 50th anniversary revival of "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead," Tom Stoppard's retelling of "Hamlet" from the perspective of its most memorably forgettable figures, which shimmers like a mirage in the desert at the Old Vic Theater. It is, to be precise, Rosencrantz who theorizes about the nonexistence of England.

Sorry, I mean Guildenstern. No, no, it's definitely Rosencrantz. I think. Everybody's always confusing these two longtime friends of a certain temperamental Prince of Denmark, including Rosencrantz and gentle Guildenstern — I mean, Guildenstern and gentle Rosencrantz — themselves.




The theatergoers who have made Leveaux's production a palpable hit are unlikely to be similarly befuddled, since Rosencrantz is portrayed by Daniel Radcliffe, who became world famous as the more proactive title character of the "Harry Potter" movies before he proved his stage chops. Radcliffe, happily teamed with Joshua McGuire as Guildenstern, may be disappearing most appropriately into the role of Rosencrantz the nonentity.

But fans are still mobbing the stage door, because they think they know who Radcliffe really is. Which would suggest they haven't absorbed the lesson of Stoppard's play.



At a time when cultural and political identity is in disruptive flux in Britain (and most of Europe, and that big place across the Atlantic), Stoppard's opalescent uncertainty feels alarmingly on the nose. Past, present and future all look ominously cloudy as forecast by the young, precociously fatalistic Stoppard.


This Czech-born dramatist, who turns (no!) 80 this summer, is now one of his adopted nation's most eminent men of letters, the author of plays of intellectual and emotional gravitas like "The Invention of Love" and "The Coast of Utopia." The two early works by him that happily overlapped this season in major London productions are often regarded as the merely playful jeux d'esprit of a giddy lad with an insatiable and compendious mind.

As Stoppard and the fans who have grown up with him edge closer to the void, these early contemplations of being and nothingness resonate with a new quiver.



That Wasn't Twain: How a Misquotation Is Born揭開錯誤引文的面紗
文/Niraj Chokshi

How fitting that the man often credited with saying "a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes" most likely did not invent the phrase.

Commonly attributed to Mark Twain, that quotation instead appears to be a descendant of a line published centuries ago by satirist Jonathan Swift. Variants emerged and mutated over time until a modern version of the saying was popularized by a Victorian-era preacher, according to Gregory F. Sullivan, a researcher who, like Twain, prefers a pseudonym.



Seven years ago, under the alias Garson O'Toole, Sullivan started Quote Investigator — a popular website where he traces the origins of well-known sayings. This month, also as O'Toole, he published "Hemingway Didn't Say That: The Truth Behind Familiar Quotations," a book in which he collected and updated many of the posts from his site and offers new theories on how misquotations form.

"When I started off, it was mysterious exactly where these misquotations were coming from, and it was interesting that sometimes you could find these clues that pointed to how they may have originated," said Sullivan, a former teacher and researcher in the Johns Hopkins computer science department who now spends his time writing.

In the book, Sullivan offers 10 common "mechanisms" that he says lead to misquotation and incorrect attribution.




Through one such process, which he labels "textual proximity," a famous person mistakenly gets credit for a quotation merely by having their name or likeness published close to the words. In another, "ventriloquy," a statement about an individual's work is perceived to be so apt that it is eventually confused for their own words.


Both may explain how Anton Chekhov, the Russian writer, became associated with the saying: "Any idiot can face a crisis, it's the day-to-day living that wears you out," as outlined on Sullivan's website and, now, in his book. In May 2013, Sullivan heard from a reader who, after a fruitless attempt to prove Chekhov's authorship of those words, wanted help uncovering the true history of the quotation.

Sullivan accepted the challenge.

Google Books led him to "The Tradition of the Theatre," a textbook published in 1971 and edited by Peter Bauland and William Ingram. Only snippets were available online, so he visited a university library to review the book in full.





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