, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 157-161
Date: 30 Jun 2011

Darwin’s pluralism, then and now

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Tom Stoppard’s 1966 play (and 1990 movie) Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead combines existentialist philosophy, the history of science, and absurdist theater (and metatheater). This creative and stimulating piece builds a playful story based on the perspective of Hamlet’s two childhood friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Of interest to us is the fact that Stoppard remains true to the words and scenography of Shakespeare’s original text whenever the two main characters interact with any of the characters from the original play, whether they be Hamlet, King Claudius and Queen Gertrud, or Polonius. All the other dialogue and staging is Stoppard’s creation, written in modern English.

David N. Reznick’s book is also a metatext—i.e., a text commenting on, building upon, and referring to another single text. Reznick divides his own book into three sections: Natural Selection, Speciation, and Theory. The sections cover, respectively, the following chapters of Darwin 1859On the Origin of ...