by Tom Stoppard
Arcadia Literature and Writing Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act.Scene)
Septimus: [...] The missing plays of Sophocles will turn up piece by piece, or be written again in another language. Ancient cures for diseases will reveal themselves once more. Mathematical discoveries glimpsed and lost to view will have their time again. You do not suppose, my lady, that if all of Archimedes had been hiding in the great library of Alexandria, we would be at a loss for a corkscrew? (1.3)
Is Septimus right? Can lost literary works be written again, just as lost scientific discoveries can be re-found, or is this a fundamental difference between literature and science?
Bernard: You see, you have to turn over every page. (1.4)
Bernard's discovery suggests that, not only can you not judge a book by its cover, you also can't judge it by searching its text on Google Books. This kind of writing you can only find by looking at the material object.
Bernard: You see! They wrote – they scribbled – they put it on paper. It was their employment. Their diversion. Paper is what they had. And there'll be more. There is always more. We can find it! [...] Do you honestly think no one wrote a word? How could they not! It dropped from sight but we will write it again! (1.4)
While Bernard thinks that anything important must have been written down, the play as a whole seems to contradict his statement by showing us what really happened, and how different the past was from what the play's twentieth century scholars imagine.