by Tom Stoppard

Paperback, 1974






Grove Press, (1974)


The Incredible Radical Liberal Jumpers are a team of acrobatic professors of philosophy, whose absurd gymnastic displays reflect a bewildering world where logic has confounded belief in moral absolutes. In this dark, exuberant comedy, Stoppard brilliantly parodies the philosophy lecture, the detective thriller, the comedy of manners and the Whitehall farce, to follow a philosopher's doomed flight to prove the existence of God in the face of an indifferent universe. This is the definitive text of Tom Stoppard's celebrated comedy. 'A dazzling, hilarious and honestly benevolent work, which creates a dramatic structure from a forbidding diversity of materials.' The Times

User reviews

LibraryThing member iayork
Witty, Intelligent, and Fun: As with so many of Stoppard's plays, this one seems to operate on multiple levels of reality. On the one hand we have a network of philosphers looking for the essence of morality, divinity, and community. On the other, a failed actress has comitted murder and is trying to escape the consequences of her actions while committing adultery at the same time. All of this takes place in a reality that is not our own, but isn't far from it. Stoppard treats these subjects as he treats most of the subjects of his plays: with humor, cleverness, and irony. Stoppard creates a philospher who is so wrapped up in preparing a speech on morality that he is completely unaware of the murder and infidelity that are so obviously happening within his own home. A police officer manages to overlook these same problems due to his obsession with the murderer's past career as an actress. Throughout the play these kind of juxtapositions take place as each character seeks to ignore the reality around him/her as he/she seeks desperately to create his/her own reality. Stopard presents all of this with his usual blend of wit and charm, making Jumpers another solid addition to his body of work.… (more)
LibraryThing member Devil_llama
This may be one of the weirdest things I've read from Stoppard. It is definitely absurdist, with larger than life characters and dead bodies being pretty much ignored by most of the characters. I do think the zaniness isn't quite as charming as in some of his other works, but it still manages to work. It would be very fun to see this staged.… (more)
LibraryThing member Eyejaybee
Tom Stoppard might well have a claim to be one of our finest living playwrights. He has certainly had a lengthy career. Jumpers was first published in 1972, and he was already an established and successful figure by then. It is fair to say that Jumpers now feels a bit dated, but Stoppard’s dazzling wordplay, and explorations of various philosophical dilemmas retain their vitality.

The basic plot is hard to summarise as it frequently ventures into the absurd, pulling off the tricky gambit of blending moments of pure farce with highbrow digressions into philosophy. Stoppard clearly had a very precise image of how the action should come across – the stage directions are exceptionally detailed, covering all sorts of minutiae. I enjoyed reading the play, and the fond memories it provoked of having read it thirty-five years ago at school, when it was still a fairly new play, but I imagine that it really needs to be seen to be experienced to its fullest.
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LibraryThing member DavidWineberg
In Jumpers, Tom Stoppard was humiliating the pompous civilization that overanalyzes, deconstructs, and builds ridiculous rules and structures instead of dealing with reality. The line "Aetheism is just a crutch for non believers to deal with the existence of God" caught it beautifully. By using the tool of Brits on the moon at several points, he said that if you take people out of the environment/context, they revert to selfish acts without benefit of cover. The pretense is gone. The astronaut at the trial didn't challenge anything; he just agreed and kept going. Similarly, Greystoke, a pure work of fiction, was the perfect embodiment of pompous manners and class structure, and was dismissed. The real wild man was the judge, a former caretaker, who had no qualifications, and ran the whole proceeding into the ground. As The Common Man (whose hobby was philosophy!), he told us how off course we really are. And despite all George Moore's philosophising and analyzing and caring, it was he who killed his hare, he who killed his tortoise, and of course he who killed his marriage, by refusing to defend it. He lost it all because his mind was focused on idiotic rationalizations. The vice chancellor (or chancellor of vice) was the "suit" in all this. When he spoke at the trial, he uttered total gibberish, and the crowd roared with approval. He was clearly what was wrong with everything, and of course, he was running it all. Meanwhile, The archbishop made sense and was disposed of, same for Greystoke, and for Bones. Meanwhile, George, whose night this was supposed to be, didn't get to utter a word. Then, at the end, the wife was sent to the moon, and was lifted above everyone else. And that's how it ended. She had a miserable time - unappreciated intellect, unsuccessful career, sham of a marriage - and all covered by her position in society...her husband, her relationship with the vice chancellor...Clearly, she needed to get out of it all and be herself, and the only place she could do that was on the old man-in-the-moon style moon of pre astronaut days. So there was actually method to the madness, and it was entertaining to boot. It was all very British humor which I really appreciated, and the similarities to the final episode of the Prisoner were too many to ignore. By the way, Jumpers are what shrinks call suicidals, and the fact they all wore yellow must have meant they refused to deal with reality, hiding behind their philosophy instead of dealing with it. I kept seeing Robbie Coltrane as George. He really would have made the play. And that reminds me: the female lead was first played by Diana Rigg. Imagine how different THAT would have been! I would have loved to have seen that. LOTS of food for thought in Jumpers. Loved it.… (more)



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