Bryan Appleyard

Brian Appleyard Talks To Tom Stoppard

 

His lisp cannot easily be transliterated. The letter ‘R’ starts somewhere at the back of his throat and stays there. Words containing the letter are, therefore, afflicted with a strange hiatus, an unresolved gurgle. The effect is dandyish and childish at the same time: a paradox, in fact. One of many.

‘I want it to be as inaccurate [this comes out roughly as ‘inaccuchywate’] as possible,’ he wrote to Ira Nadel, Professor of English at the University of British Columbia. Nadel had asked Stoppard if he would co-operate with a biography he was writing. No, Stoppard would not. Nevertheless, Double Act: A Life of Tom Stoppard (Methuen, £25) has just been published. Its 621 pages are lying – brick-like, inert – between us on a table in the chairman’s office in the National Theatre.

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