A brief response to Stoppard’s “The Invention of Love”

I had intended that the first real blog entry here was going to touch on The Histories of Pliny the Elder, the skills of the ancient Greek painter Apelles, and the series of twenty-four tiny paintings I did a few years ago called “The Apellean Sketches” — but that will have to wait for another time, because . . . .

I honestly would never have imagined that Tom Stoppard could top what I have long considered to be his masterpiece, The Real Thing, but The Invention of Love quite possibly does just that. A densely allusive belly laugh of the brain from beginning to end, intensely tragic and gloriously uplifting at once, ultimately a journey (with Charon no less) to gaze into Nietzsche’s abyss with the dead AEH — and the abyss gazes back with at least a little bit of a smile.  No matter how pointless life may be, it’s fun, damn it!  I was laughing out loud as I read each page (just as I laughed out loud — embarrassingly, the only one in the audience  at Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre to do so — at the “Screw the whales, save the gerund” joke in The Real Thing all those years ago) but . . . .

as Houseman says in Act II, “if you can’t read Latin go home, you’ve missed it!”

If there were, however, no other reward in this life for a Classical education, no matter how pointless it seemed at the time, The Invention of Love would be more than enough.

If you haven’t had a Classical education, well, I’m sorry, but . . .

I’m going to go read The Invention of Love one more time.


Initial thought

Ill-understood polysyllabic vocabulary has replaced well-ordered syntax as the hallmark of a highbrow.