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2011-12, 371, 372, Bibliography, Book Reviews, Colin Steele

Book Review

Tom Stoppard: A bibliographic history by William Baker and Gerald N Wachs 

The British Library 449 pp. $99.95

SIR TOM STOPPARD with Harold Pinter, is regarded as one of the two outstanding British dramatists of the second half of the twentieth century. William Baker, Distinguished Research Professor at Northern Illinois University, and John Ross compiled a definitive bibliography of Pinter in 2005. Now Baker, in association with Gerald N Wachs, has assembled a similarly definitive bibliography of Stoppard, which has received both Stoppard’s authorisation and help. Wachs, an eminent New York based dermatologist, has a world renowned Stoppard collection whose physical copies provided the basis for the bibliographical history.

Baker and Wachs take as their brief the words of the eminent New Zealand bibliographer, DF McKenzie, that, ‘it would now be more useful to describe bibliography as a study of the sociology of texts’ which allows a wide interpretation of intellectual form and content. Their detailed bibliography thus provides an exhaustive and comprehensive account of the published writings, and texts in other media, which Stoppard wholly or partially authored.

A Bibliographic History follows Stoppard’s obsessive creative revisions, as, for example, in the play Travesties, and also documents the countless translations of his work.

Stoppard, born Tomáš Straussler in 1937 in Czechoslovakia, began his journalistic career in 1954. Baker and Wachs cover just over 55 years of his creativity with their bibliography cutting off in January 2010. In addition to his dramas for theatre, radio, television and cinema, Stoppard has also written short stories, a novel and a large corpus of non-fiction, including reviews, such as his 1960 review of ‘On the Beach’ for the Bristol Evening World. Articles cover a wide range of topics, including Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union and reflect Stoppard’s interests in human rights and freedom of expression.

Tom Stoppard: A Bibliographic History will be an essential purchase for research libraries with interests in contemporary drama and culture and for Stoppard collectors. The book is accompanied by a CD ROM of illustrations.

Colin Steele

 

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