The Copenhagen Papers An Intrigue

Michael Frayn and David Burke

Picador

0312421249

9780312421243

Trade Paperback

144 Pages

$16.00

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One day, during the British run of Copenhagen, winner of the Tony Award for best play in 1999, playwright Frayn was presented with a curious package from a London housewife that contained a few faded pages of barely legible German. These pages, apparently found concealed beneath some floorboards, seemed to cast a remarkable new light on the mystery at the heart of his play. While Frayn began to lose all sense of certainty, actor David Burke, who played Niels Bohr in the London production and had some experience with documents of this sort, followed the action with particularly close interest. After the riddle was cracked and the fog had cleared, Frayn and Burke sat down together to ponder the winding trail of "the Copenhagen papers." Indeed, this book explores the conundrum at the heart of all Michael Frayn's work—human fallibility and the eternal difficulty of knowing why we do what we do.

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Praise for The Copenhagen Papers

"A deliciously intricate, whimsically philosophical little intrigue . . . The greatest fun of The Copenhagen Papers is the companionship of Mr. Frayn and Mr. Burke, who take turns writing chapters and display plenty of wry British charm."—The New York Times

"Comic and intriguing . . . [An] ingenious book about human gullibility and the incomprehensibility of one's own behavior."—Library Journal

"An entertaining [game] of historical cat-and-mouse . . . Another good yarn from Frayn."—Kirkus Reviews

"Englishman Frayn is best known in the U.S. for his wild comedy Noises Off, about a slipshod theater troupe slogging through the provinces. In it Frayn deconstructs the mildly titillating British farce, showing in successive acts how a production decays on the road. This whimsical intellectual romp is also a backstage revelation. It tells the story of a minor hoax Frayn was drawn into. During the run of his hit play Copenhagen, Frayn received notes supposedly made by Nazi scientists held in detention after the war. He was hooked like a trout. The fact that this hoax had been cooked up by Burke, one of the play's stars, makes the situation and the book all the more delicious. In alternating chapters, Frayn and Burke recount their sides of the story. Frayn puzzles over the seemingly invaluable papers in one chapter, and then, in the next, Burke details, hilariously, how he faked the documents. Frayn and Burke are both strong writers, so that the end of this short, wry, entertaining memoir comes all too quickly."—Jack Helbig, Booklist

Reviews from Goodreads

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BOOK EXCERPTS

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Michael Frayn is the author of the award-winning Copenhagen and twelve other plays, including Noises Off. The most recent of his ten novels is Spies.

David Burke is an actor who has worked extensively with Britain’s National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Michael Frayn and David Burke

  • Michael Frayn is the author of the award-winning Copenhagen and twelve other plays, including Noises Off. He has also written ten novels, including Spies.

    David Burke is an actor who has worked extensively with Britain’s National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company.
  • Michael Frayn Eamonn McCabe
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