Read an Excerpt
The Coast of Utopia: Part III
By Tom Stoppard
Grove Atlantic, Inc.
Copyright © 2002
All right reserved.
London. The Herzen house in Hampstead. Alexander
Herzen, aged forty, is asleep in an armchair, attended by dreams.
The room is (at this first appearance) without boundaries. The
space will remain loosely defined, serving for different rooms
and changes of address, and sometimes, as now, for exteriors.
There is a wind blowing. Birdsong.
Sasha Herzen, aged thirteen, runs backwards across the stage
pulling on a kite string. He is accompanied by a young nurse
(nanny), Maria Fomm, who is in charge of Tata Herzen,
aged eight, and of a stroller or simple pram in which a
two-year-old (Olga) is asleep. Speech is without accent except
when inside quotation marks. Herzen speaks from his chair.
maria Bring it down now, it's time to go home!
sasha No, isn't, it isn't!
maria (as Sasha leaves) I'll tell your father!
herzenCan you see, Tata?.... the Cathedral of St Paul ... the
Parliament House ...
tata I know why it's called the Parliament House, Papa ...
because you can see it from Parliament Hill.
Sasha returns, loudly aggrieved, winding his broken kite
sasha It broke!
maria Don't wake Olga ...
tata Look!-there it goes! It's much higher than all the other
sasha Well, of course it is-the string broke!
maria (looking in the pram) She's dropped a glove, we'll have
to go back and look ...
herzen We'll make another one, Sasha ...
sasha At once, please, Papa, will you?
maria Oh, look, it's in my pocket!
herzen If we stay here, you know, we'll have to learn to speak
sasha 'I say, I say!'
herzen (correcting, drawls) 'I say, I say!'
Sasha follows Maria, Tata and Olga out.
sasha (leaving, mimicking) 'I say, I say!'
In Herzen's dream, a number of people are taking the air on
Parliament Hill. They are émigrés, political refugees, from
Germany, France, Poland, Italy and Hungary.
The Germans: Gottfried Kinkel (thirty-seven), a
tall, greying poet with a Jove-like head attached incongruously to a
fastidious professor. He is his greatest admirer, but his
handsome wife, Joanna (thirty-two), runs him close.
Malwida von Meysenbug (thirty-six), their friend, is plain,
intelligent, unmarried, romantic. Arnold Ruge (fifty) is a
failed radical journalist, embittered and self-important. Karl Marx is
thirty-four. His companion, the exception, is an Englishman, Ernest
Jones (thirty-three), a prominent Chartist of the middle
The French: Alexandre Ledru-Rollin (forty-five), a
large man, the leader of the 'official' (bourgeois)
Republicans-in-exile; he is accompanied by an Aide. Louis Blanc
(forty-one) is a small man, the leader of the socialist
faction of the Republicans-in-exile.
The Pole is Count Stanislaw Worcell (fifty-three),
a radicalised aristocrat, a gentle soul suffering from asthma.
The Italian is the famous revolutionary Guiseppe Mazzini
The Hungarian is Lajos Kossuth (fifty-one), the
hero of his country's revolution, a handsome leader-in-exile.
His Aide wears semi-military uniform.
The Kinkels and Malwida are the first to appear.
joanna Dearest heart, are we wearing our special waistcoat? I'm
simply terrified you'll catch a chill!
kinkel Light of my life, the chills reel back in confusion from
our special waistcoat.
joanna I've given Gottfried a life preserver, you know.
malwida Is it flannel?
joanna There are dangers lying in wait for the unwary-including
some of the female variety!
malwida I'm a firm believer in flannel, myself.
joanna Don't scream when he pulls it out. Let Malwida have a
look, my dearest.
Meanwhile, Kossuth and Ledru-Rollin have entered separately
with their Aides. Each pair consults for a moment.
Joanna helps Kinkel to unbutton his coat. Malwida gives a
malwida Oh! Can I hold it?
The 'life preserver,' a revolver, is flourished by Kinkel.
The two Aides, Hungarian and French, approach each other,
while Kossuth and Ledru-Rollin occupy themselves with the view.
hungarian aide (clicking his heels) Captain Peks, aide-de-camp
to Monsieur le Gouverneur Kossuth.
french aide (bowing) Enchanted. Alphonse de Ville, chief
secretary to Monsieur Ledru-Rollin.
hungarian aide It is a great sorrow that two such heroes of the
revolutions in Europe have never met.
french aide A tragedy.
hungarian aide Inexplicable. Were Monsieur Ledru-Rollin to
find himself in Notting Hill on a Wednesday afternoon between
three and six o'clock, I assure you Monsieur le Gouverneur
would extend the hand of cordiality.
french aide I thank you. But it is customary for calls to be made
by the newer arrivals on those already in residence. Perhaps
you know Parsons Green.
hungarian aide It is true that Ledru-Rollin was here first, but
Kossuth, in the glorious period of the revolution, was ruler of
french aide (agrees) Hungary. But Ledru-Rollin was a minister
in the government of the Second French Republic.
hungarian aide (agrees) A minister.
french aide (shrugs) So be it.
hungarian aide (shrugs) Alas.
Mazzini, entering, greets Kossuth warmly, just as Jones,
accompanying Marx, enters and sees Ledru-Rollin.
jones I say!-Ledru-Rollin! And Governor Kossuth! I say!
mazzini (noticing Ledru-Rollin) Ministre! [Bravissimo!
(introducing) You know Kossuth ...
jones (simultaneously to Kossuth) You know Ledru-Rollin?
Kossuth and Ledru-Rollin recognise each other with
incredulity and rapture.
ledru-rollin Allow me to embrace you! France greets the hero of
that great nation, Hungary!
kossuth Your noble character, your courage, your sacrifice will
be remembered wherever the torch of freedom burns!
ledru-rollin The name of Kossuth will be immortal in the annals
of the revolution in Europe!
kinkel (to Joanna and Malwida) Don't look-it's that
marx (to Jones) So you're still keeping in with that great
flatulent bag of festering tripe Ledru-Rollin?
jones Oh, I say!
marx Kossuth doesn't know when history's scraped him off its
shoe. As for Mazzini, the boil on my arse is more use than an
kinkel (to Joanna and Malwida) Marx is always getting thrown
out of pubs by the English workingman, what a charlatan!
All insults are spoken so as not to be audible to the insulted.
Marx and Kinkel catch each other's eye.
marx Kinkel! ... Unctuous jackass.
marx (cont.) And here's another impudent windbag. Whenever
I see Ruge, I think of those signs at certain street corners in
Paris-'It is permitted to pass water here.'
ruge (greeting Ledru-Rollin and Kossuth) Monsieur le
Ministre! Monsieur le Gouverneur! Who cracked first? I see my
countryman over there, that swindler Marx. Oh, and Gottfried
Kinkel-well, he's just a long streak of piss. So, when's the
ledru-rollin But for a miserable hundred thousand francs, I
could give the signal for revolution in Paris tomorrow, or
Tuesday at the latest.
mazziniParis-the whole of mankind, for that matter-will be liberated
from Milano! My agents are in place.
Worcell and Blanc enter.
worcell (coughing asthmatically) Poland greets Hungary, Italy and
blanc Socialist France greets Hungary, Italy and the bourgeois
Republic-in-exile! ... and Germany, Germany and Germany,
'Divided we fall, united we're fucked!'
Ruge and Kinkel cut each other. Ruge cuts Marx.
marx (to Jones) Watch out for that preening glove-puppet Louis
Blanc-a deviationist to his stinking arsehole.
worcell (shaking hands) Herzen! Poland forgives Russia!
jones I say! It's Herzen!
marx Russia is irrelevant. I propose Herzen is expelled from the
jones Oh, I say-that's simply not on.
marx I resign!
Marx leaves. The émigrés watch him go, overtly catcalling
kinkel Parasite! Sponger!
mazzini Economist! (generally) Arrivederci! Today
Milano-tomorrow the world! (Mazzini leaves.)
worcell (to Jones) Can we get on? I have to give a math lesson
in Muswell Hill at five o'clock.
jones Gentlemen! Order, order! The European Committee of
Co-operation and Joint Action by the International Brotherhood
of Democrats in Exile is now in session!
Unadvertised, a localised drama involving the Kinkels and
Malwida reaches an operatic climax, ignored by everyone else,
with Joanna waving the pistol at Kinkel and Malwida.
joanna Do up your buttons! I was blind, blind!
Joanna fires the pistol. The noise, like a slammed door, startles
The 'Herzen interior' from now on incorporates, permanently
or otherwise and according to needs, tables, chairs,
armchairs, desk, couch and so on, as well as notional doors
and enclosed spaces.
Malwida has just entered the room where Herzen has been
The remaining members of the dream are 'next door' chatting
socially, holding glasses of wine, smoking, eating snacks
replenished by a Parlourmaid.
herzen (waking) Oh! ... Are you all right?
There is a burst of jovial laughter from the émigrés responding
to some remark.
malwida I'm so sorry, the wind caught the door ... I did
herzen (getting up) No-no-forgive me! I felt tired for a
moment ... and the next thing I knew ...
malwida Were you having a dream?
herzen My God, I hope so.
malwida I received your letter.
herzen That's it. My letter.
malwida You want a tutor for your children.
herzen Only for Tata. Sasha has his own tutors, and Olga is not
old enough yet. The girls have been living with friends in Paris
since my wife died, it's time I brought us all together again. Tata
will need mathematics, history, geography ... you have some
malwida I could teach a beginner. Would I be teaching in
French or in German?
herzen Undoubtedly!-We speak Russian en famille.
malwida I'd like to learn Russian. I've read From the Other
Shore, but only in German, of course.
herzen You know my book?
malwida At home I was close to someone who took part in the
revolution. He died last year. He died young.
herzen We are both bereaved.
malwida Somebody's lost a glove. A child ...
Malwida picks up a small-sized glove from the floor by
Herzen's chair. She gives him the glove. Herzen puts it in his
herzen Yes, it's mine. Well-how much will I pay you?
malwida I would like to suggest two shillings an hour.
herzen I would like to suggest three. Should we shake hands on
it like Englishmen?
They shake hands. He starts escorting her to the other room.
herzen (cont.) At home we used to call Englishmen 'Eyseyki'-'I
Malwida joins the Kinkels. Joanna is buttoning Kinkel's coat.
Kossuth is making a round of farewell handshakes. The party
is breaking up, assisted as appropriately by the Parlourmaid
helping with coats and hats.
joanna It is foggy out? My foolish cavalier is determined to
provoke the Grim Reaper into an indiscretion!
hungarian aide (to Herzen) Monsieur le Gouverneur begs to
take his leave, that your guests may feel free to depart.
ruge (in 'English') 'Mr Jones-Marx tells me you Chartists will
be the government in two years-and private property abolished
jones Oh, I say-I think that's premature.
ledru-rollin The revolution can only radiate from France! France
means Europe! (complaining to his Aide) Look at that!-Kossuth
is leaving before me!
kossuth (to Worcell) That admirable man Ledru-Rollin has his
head in the clouds, I'm afraid.
worcell You heard? Mazzini is alive but in hiding.
kossuth A brave patriot but, alas, a romantic.
Kossuth and Worcell shake hands. Kossuth shakes hands with
Herzen and leaves.
kinkel (saying goodbye to Jones) 'You show the steep and
thorny way to heaven while we the Primrose Hill of dalliance
jones (baffled) Indeed.
ledru-rollin (to his Aide) And now those Germans! You'd better
fetch a cab or I'll be last.
The Aide leaves on his errand.
kinkel (to Herzen) Malwida showed me your letter, and I must
tell you I was horrified. Letters in England must be folded in
three-never in quarters! Especially when writing to a lady!
herzen (to Malwida) The children will be arriving with their
nurse. She's a German girl, so you'll get on.
joanna We must go, we must go! Gottfried is losing his voice,
and where will Germany be then?
Kinkel, Joanna and Malwida leave.
jones (to Herzen) I promised Emily an early start on the
herzen (politely baffled) 'Safe journey!'
Jones leaves. Herzen returns to the remaining guests-Blanc,
Ledru-Rollin, Ruge and Worcell, who has fallen asleep.
ledru-rollin (to Blanc) But, you know, when Kossuth's
triumphal progress reached Marseilles, he talked socialism to the
workers, and when he got to England, he praised parliamentary
herzen Well, he would have been a fool to do it the other way
ledru-rollin But that's hypocrisy.
herzen What is? To allow that here is not there? Cutting people
out like pastry with your one true pastry-cutter makes you no
better than the tyranny you're fighting.
blanc What's this?
herzen It's all right ... I had a dream about exiles. What a
snake pit, adders' tongues weren't in it. But they spoke
Russian! Extraordinary. You don't know Russian, do you?
blanc (put out) Why? Was I ...?
herzen It was a dream. You wouldn't like it if you'd been left
out. And it's true, anyway. The only thing that unites the émigrés
is criticising the English. Blanc hates the English because they
don't speak French.
herzen You become furious when they don't know the way to
Sharring Crow and Backay Strit.
ledru-rollin Not that the English aren't in some respects capable
of improvement ... The slavery of restaurants closed on
Sundays. Is it some kind of restaurant-based theology? And
when they're open, you want them closed as quickly as
humanely possible ...
blanc They have the ridiculous idea that they're the most
advanced nation on earth, but they haven't discovered the
principle of organisation.
Excerpted from Salvage
by Tom Stoppard
Copyright © 2002 by Tom Stoppard.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.