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English Department Zurich in Anglophone Literatures

Tom Stoppard, Travesties (1974)

Zurich James Joyce Foundation
Visit the Zurich James Joyce Foundation to learn more about James Joyce and his work.



From the blurb of the Grove Press's edition of the revised 1993 version:

"Travesties was born out of Stoppard's noting that in 1917 three of the twentieth century's most crucial revolutionaries – James Joyce, the Dadaist founder Tristan Tzara, and Lenin – were all living in Zurich. Also living in Zurich at this time was a British consular official called Henry Carr, a man acquainted with Joyce through the theater and later through a lawsuit concerning a pair of trousers. Taking Carr as his core, Stoppard spins this historical coincidence into a masterful and riotously funny play [...]."

Editorial Notes

  • During their time in Zurich, Henry Carr and James Joyce worked together on an English-language production of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest. Much of the dialogue and plot of Stoppard's play is taken from Wilde, as are two of the female characters, Gwendolen and Cecily.
  • The excerpt below makes fun of the overly Anglocentric outlook that arguably characterizes the officials of empire, past and present (and perhaps other English speakers as well). The idea that English could be considered a foreign language in a German-speaking territory is evidently, well, foreign to Carr.

Places Referenced

  • Zentralbibliothek

Excerpts: "Zurich Public Library" (Zentralbibliothek; p. 1 / 25-26)


Weiterführende Informationen

Zurich in Anglophone Literatures

Zurich in Anglophone Literatures


Stoppard, Tom. Travesties. 1974. New York: Grove Press, [1993].

Project Editor

Martin Mühlheim

UZH English Department, Plattenstrasse 47, CH-8032 Zürich, Switzerland