Tom Stoppard

Quotations

Fear! The crack that might flood your brain with light!

Inside where nothing shows, I am the essence of a man spinning double-headed coins, and betting against himself in private atonement for an unremembered past.

By this time tomorrow we might have forgotten everything we ever knew. That’s a thought, isn’t it? We’d be right back where we started – improvising.

Now for a handful of guilders I happen to have a private and uncut performance of the rape of the Sabine Women – or rather woman, or rather Alfred -Get your skirt on Alfred!

We do on stage the things that are supposed to happen off. Which is a kind of integrity, if you look on every exit being an entrance somewhere else.

All your life you live so close to the truth, it becomes a permanent blur in the corner of your eye, and when something nudges it into outline it is like being ambushed by a grotesque.

Rosencrantz: Shouldn’t we be doing something – constructive?
Guildenstern: What did you have in mind?…A short, blunt human pyramid?

A Chinaman of the T’ang Dynasty – and, by which definition, a philosopher – dreamed he was a butterfly, and from that moment he was never quite sure that he was not a butterfly dreaming it was a Chinese philosopher. Envy him; in his two-fold security.

…the single assumption that makes our existence viable – that somebody is watching….

Guildenstern: We only know what we’re told, and that’s little enough. And for all we know it isn’t even true.
Player: For all anyone knows, nothing is. Everything has to be taken on trust; truth is only that which is taken to be true. It’s the currency of living. There may be nothing behind it, but it doesn’t make any difference so long as it is honoured. One acts on assumptions. What do you assume?

Whatever became of the moment when one first knew about death? There must have been one, a moment, in childhood when it first occured to you that you don’t go on for ever. It must have been shattering – stamped into one’s memory. And yet I can’t remember it. It never occured to me at all.

We’re overawed, that’s our trouble. When it comes to the point we succumb to their personalities…

Rosencrantz: Fire!
Guildenstern: Where?
Rosencrantz: It’s all right – I’m demonstrating the misuse of free speech.

If I might make a suggestion – shut up and sit down. Stop being perverse.

Lady Croom: It is a defect of God’s humor that he directs our hearts everywhere but to those who have a right to them.

A man talking sense to himself is no madder than a man talking nonsense not to himself.

We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us; leaving nothing but a memory of the smell of smoke and a presumption that our eyes once watered.

We’re actors! We’re the opposite of people.