What Do I Read Next?
Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1967) is a play about the absurdity of life as seen through the eyes of the two minor courtiers in William Shakespeare's Hamlet. Like Arcadia, the work is noted for its ferocious wordplay and lofty ideas.
Also by Stoppard, Travesties (1974) is a comedy-drama that imagines three of history's quirkier characters—Vladimir Lenin, James Joyce, and Tristan Tzara—all living together in Zurich during World War I.
Other playwrights with a distinctively British flair for characters and comedy include Alan Ayckbourn, whose series The Norman Conquests: A Trilogy of Plays (1988) is an hilarious family farce packed with witty one-liners, and Alan Bennett, the author of The Madness of George III (1992), which became a popular film a year later (retitled as The Madness of King George), and Talking Heads (1993), a collection of six unique monologues that were originally broadcast on the BBC.
The Selected Poems of Lord Byron, available in a variety of editions, is a wonderful introduction to the poetry of the Romantic era. For a wider sampling, try English Romantic Poetry: An Anthology (1996), edited by Stanley Appelbaum, which contains poetry by six of the best-known Romantics: William Blake, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and John Keats.
Foolscap: A Novel (1991) is Michael Malone's satirical take on the research of literary history and the pursuit of academic fame. Like Bernard Nightingale in Arcadia, Theodore Ryan, the protagonist of Foolscap is out to make a name for himself in the cutthroat world of academic scholarship. Since no one will produce his play about Sir Walter Raleigh, Theodore devises a way to pass the play off as Raleigh's own work and have a forged copy "discovered" by a well-known Renaissance scholar.