By MICHAEL CAINES
This novel of ideas question I've been fretting about – be honest, is it really something of a red herring?
In more general terms, that's a question D. J. Taylor both asks and answers in last week's Independent on Sunday, in response to The Hard Problem – or rather, in response to the responses to The Hard Problem, Tom Stoppard's (sorry) problematic new play, which recently opened at the National Theatre. Some people, as Taylor observes, will work themselves up over the unseemly prominence of "ideas" in, say, prose fiction or stage plays. Why can't novelists and playwrights just stick to nice characters and pretty plots? How dare we give "ideas" more prominence than they deserve . . .