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.
‘No, I haven’t read it. I noticed that quote about inaccuracy in a brochure they sent me. It’s perfectly accurate. The idea of having a book about me I find just appalling. I just didn’t want it. Methuen sent me a copy and I saw the photograph