10 of the best: Tom Stoppard quotes

Sir Tom Stoppard, © Matt Humphrey

His glittering career includes over 30 plays, from his 1966 breakthrough Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead to his most recent philosophical head-scratcher The Hard Problem. Here are some of our favourite quotes from his work.

1. “Look on every exit as being an entrance somewhere else.” (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead)

2. “If we can’t arrange our own happiness, it’s a conceit beyond vulgarity to arrange the happiness of those who come after us.” (The Coast of Utopia)

3. “It is a defect of God’s humor that he directs our hearts everywhere but to those who have a right to them.” (Arcadia)

4. “We’re actors – we’re the opposite of people!” (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead)

5. “If Beethoven had been killed in a plane crash at twenty-two, the history of music would have been very different. As would the history of aviation, of course.” (The Real Thing)

6. “It’s not the voting that’s democracy, it’s the counting.” (Jumpers)

7. “War is capitalism with the gloves off and many who go to war know it but they go to war because they don’t want to be a hero. It takes courage to sit down and be counted.” (Travesties)

8. “I don’t think writers are sacred, but words are. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little or make a poem which children will speak for you when you’re dead.” (The Real Thing)

9. “No matter how imperfect things are, if you’ve got a free press everything is correctable, and without it everything is concealable.” (Night and Day)

10. “What we’re trying to do is to write cricket bats, so that when we throw up an idea and give it a little knock, it might… travel.” (The Real Thing)

Image: Sir Tom Stoppard, © Matt Humphrey