Assess The Role Of Carr In

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Assess The Role Of Carr In ‘Travesties’ By Tom Stoppard Essay, Research Paper The play “>Travesties”> concerns the relationship between art and politics. The three major historical figures in the play – James Joyce, Lenin and Tristan Tzara – represent contrasting views on the issue, views that Stoppard juxtaposes with one another within the comic framework of the play. Henry Carr, a genuine historical figure, is somewhat overshadowed by the notoriety of the men around him and his opinions are often overlooked. Yet the debate occurs within Carr’s memory, and the play makes it clear that the events presented are highly coloured by Carr’s remembering them. Indeed, Carr’s introductions of each of the other three participants in the debate emphasise their

status as products of his memory: ‘James Joyce As I Knew Him’, ‘Lenin As I Knew Him’, ‘”>Memories of Dada by a Consular Friend of the Famous in Old Zurich: A Sketch”>’. Furthermore, Carr takes his own position on the aesthetic-political issue, a position that he defends against the opposing views of Tzara, Joyce and Lenin. By contrast, Joyce and Lenin never argue directly with each other in the play. Carr, then, provides a controlling perspective and actively participates in the debate embodied in “>Travesties”. A careful examination of the scenes in which Carr’s views conflict with those of Tzara, Joyce and Lenin will reveal both Carr’s centrality to the aesthetic-political debate and a clearer picture of the position he adopts. In Act One,

Carr’s views are contrasted with those of Tzara and Joyce. The contrast appears first, in caricatured form, in the scene where Tzara and Joyce behave in a nonsensical exaggerated fashion and the dialogue takes the form of a series of limericks. This scene establishes the basic position that each of the characters will develop later. Tzara complains about the artistic tradition represented by Joyce; he is scornful of ‘culture and reason’ and rejects ‘the classics – tradition’. Joyce asserts the value of his own work – he calls himself ‘a fine writer who writes caviar/for the general, hence poor’ – and he asks for money. Carr takes the middle ground. He accepts neither Joyce’s valuation of traditional art for its own sake nor Tzara’s outright rejection of

traditional art; instead, Carr comments that ‘H.M.G. is considered pro-Art’ and considers the possibility of scoring diplomatic points against the Germans by means of the play that Joyce proposes to produce. On the whole, Carr’s approach might be characterised as practical, even if his selection of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “>Iolanthe”> as the prime representative of British culture reveals the limits of his vision. In the following scene the interchange between Carr and Tzara constitutes the first extensive discussion of aesthetic and political issues in “>Travesties.”> Tzara’s argument is that the war has made a mockery of the values and the schemes of logic and causality which have served as the basis for traditional art. Without logic, art must be

nonsense, and Tzara rejects all attempts to present art as anything other than nonsense: TZARA: I am sick of cleverness. The clever people try to impose a design on the world and when it goes calamitously wrong they call it fate. In point of fact, everything is Chance, including design. CARR: That sounds awfully clever. What does it mean? Not that it has to mean anything, of course. TZARA: It means, my dear Henry, that the causes we know everything about depend on causes we know very little about, which depend on causes we know absolutely nothing about. And it is the duty of the artist to jeer and howl and belch at t he delusion that infinite generations of real effects can be inferred from the gross expansion of apparent cause. Tzara wants to redefine art: ‘Nowadays, an artist