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Copenhagen
     

Copenhagen

by Michael Frayn
 

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In 1941 the German physicist Werner Heisenberg made a strange trip to Copenhagen to see his Danish counterpart, Niels Bohr. They were old friends and close colleagues, and they had revolutionized atomic physics in the 1920s with their work together on quantum mechanics and the uncertainty principle. But now the world had changed, and the two men were on opposite sides

Overview

In 1941 the German physicist Werner Heisenberg made a strange trip to Copenhagen to see his Danish counterpart, Niels Bohr. They were old friends and close colleagues, and they had revolutionized atomic physics in the 1920s with their work together on quantum mechanics and the uncertainty principle. But now the world had changed, and the two men were on opposite sides in a world war. The meeting was fraught with danger and embarrassment, and ended in disaster.

Why Heisenberg went to Copenhagen and what he wanted to say to Bohr are questions which have exercised historians ever since. In Michael Frayn's new play Heisenberg meets Bohr and his wife Margrethe once again to look for the answers, and to work out, just as they had once worked out the internal functioning of the atom, how we can ever know why we do what we do.

Copenhagen premiered in May 1998 at the Royale National Theatre, London, and in April 2000 at the Royale Theater, New York. Both productions were directed by Michael Blakemore.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Frayn was born in London in 1933 and began his career as a journalist on the Guardian and the Observer. Cophenhagen is the thirteenth of his plays.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A piece of history, an intellectual thriller, a psychological investigation and a moral tribunal in full session.” —Sunday Times of London

“Probably the best play about science ever written in English drama. Forget the physics. The greatest experiment...is the dramatic form itself.” —The Guardian

“Frayn has seized on a real-life historical and scientific mystery. In 1941 the physicist Werner Heisenberg, who formulated the famous Uncertainty Principle about the movement of particles, and was at that time leading the Nazi's nuclear programme, went to visit his old boss and mentor, Niels Bohr, in Copenhagen. What was the purpose of his visit to Nazi-occupied Denmark? What did the two old friends say to each other, particularly bearing in mind that Bohr was both half-Jewish and a Danish patriot?... Frayn argues that just as it is impossible to be certain of the precise location of an electron, so it is impossible to be certain about the workings of the human mind... What is certain is that Frayn makes ideas zing and sing in this play.” —Daily Telegraph

“A profound and haunting meditation on the mysteries of human motivation.” —Independent

Sunday Times of London

A piece of history, an intellectual thriller, a psychological investigation and a moral tribunal in full session.
The Guardian

Probably the best play about science ever written in English drama. Forget the physics. The greatest experiment... is the dramatic form itself.
Daily Telegraph

Frayn has seized on a real-life historical and scientific mystery. In 1941 the physicist Werner Heisenberg, who formulated the famous Uncertainty Principle about the movement of particles, and was at that time leading the Nazi's nuclear programme, went to visit his old boss and mentor, Niels Bohr, in Copenhagen. What was the purpose of his visit to Nazi-occupied Denmark? What did the two old friends say to each other, particularly bearing in mind that Bohr was both half-Jewish and a Danish patriot?... Frayn argues that just as it is impossible to be certain of the precise location of an electron, so it is impossible to be certain about the workings of the human mind... What is certain is that Frayn makes ideas zing and sing in this play.
Independent

A profound and haunting meditation on the mysteries of human motivation.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307433060
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
08/04/2010
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
144
Sales rank:
837,996
File size:
2 MB

What People are Saying About This

John Peter
"Michael Frayn's tremendous new play is a piece of history, an intellectual thriller, a psychological investigation and a moral tribunal in full session."

-- Sunday Times

Meet the Author

Michael Frayn is an English dramatist and has written many successful plays such as: Alphabetical Order; Donkeys' Years; Clouds; Make and Break; Noises Off; and Democracy & Afterlife.

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