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In a new departure for our book club, we read a play: The Hard Problem,1 by Tom Stoppard (figure 1), one of the best known dramatists of our time. Though only a short read, our discussion still raised many interesting ideas. Few of our members had read a play before outside of school Shakespeare lessons, and we were initially divided as to whether it was a worthwhile experience. Some had found it liberating, since with dialogue alone, imagination became much more important, particularly in working out a character's reasons and motivations for doing or saying what they did. Others felt that reading a play text seemed clunky and artificial, and something to experience only through watching a real performance.
The story centres around Hilary, a psychology researcher in the …