Thursday, October 13, 2005

Harold Pinter, Nobel Laureate

Congratulations to Harold Pinter on the Nobel Prize for Literature! Nicely done.

The last play of Pinter's I saw was The Lover, at Yale, in the summer of 2004. There is a review of it at Harold Pinter's web site, but it gives away an important secret.

My review would simply be: Harold Pinter's The Lover is a perfectly shaped and somewhat demonic play about marriage. It's challenging and psychologically disorienting, but still essentially realist in form.

(Photograph above by Chris Saunders)


Anonymous said...


Just discovered your blog, & loved the 'homage to London' post. As a (north) Londoner, it's nice to hear others waxing lyrical about my hometown! Cheers to London indeed!


7:59 AM  
Rani said...

I bashfully admit that I haven't read anything by Harold Pinter. Where should I begin?

11:15 AM  
Amardeep said...


Well, the Birthday Party is the most famous, and for good reason.

But he's a playwright, and his stuff really comes alive when it's performed. Maybe one of the movies for which he wrote the screenplay? IMDB also has him involved with lots and lots of British TV. Some of that stuff might be in video stores. And I suspect there might be a version of the film version of the Birthday Party in some video stores (better ones).

Pinter was also involved with the Kyle MacLachlan version of Kafka's The Trial as well as the Greta Scacchi (?) version of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. Both are pretty good movies... Could be a good place to start.

12:11 PM  
Rani said...

Amardeep, many thanks. I actually do actually enjoy reading theatre, so I may go to the Strand (the best bookstore in NYC) and pick up the Birthday Party.

1:18 PM  
Shreeharsh said...

I'd also recommend Pinter's adaptation of John Fowles' The French Lieutenant's Woman. I thought that was very well done and the movie works very well too.

3:35 PM  
brimful said...

He was also in the film, Mansfield Park. His playwright work really crawls under my skin, in a good way.

7:38 PM  
badmash said...

Amardeep - do you think that the Nobel Commitee is also making a political statement with this one?

7:51 PM  
Mrudula said...

Pinter is simply BRILLIANT.

1:18 AM  
Mrudula said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:18 AM  
Amardeep said...


I don't think it's especially political. Much of Pinter's best stuff from the 1960s is apolitical, actually. Here is a short summary of The Birthday Party:

His first full-length play, THE BIRTHDAY PARTY, was first performed by Bristol University's drama department in 1957 and produced in 1958 in the West End. The play, which closed with disastrous reviews after one week, dealt in a Kafkaesque manner with an apparently ordinary man who is threatened by strangers for an unknown reason. He tries to run away but is tracked down.

It could be sort of political in that the situation might be a reference to life in a police state. (In an interview I heard on NPR he talked about how popular the play was with Iranians in the 1970s). But the theme is mainly abstract.

Though Pinter's always been a bit of a rebel, as I understand it it's only in the past five years that he's gone full-time into political activism (anti-US in Iraq).

And some of his recent political positions have been a bit dodgy. Take this:

During the Kosovo crisis in 1999, Pinter condemned Nato's intervention and said it will "only aggravate the misery and the horror and devastate the country". In 2001 Pinter joined The International Committee to Defend Slobodan Milosevic, which also included former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark. Milosevic was arrested by the U.N. war crimes tribunal, which plans to try him on charges of crimes against humanity.

A little nutty, siding with Milosevic.

All in all, it doesn't really add up to a political statement by the Swedish Academy. He really is one of the living greats of English drama... and fully deserves the recognition.

6:51 AM  
Badmash said...

Christopher Hitchens has an interesting comment on the prize here

5:35 PM  
radio said...

This post has been removed by the author.

11:31 PM  
radio said...

Hitchens has become such a blowhard, he feels he must sign off on everything that seems to sound with the American Right. A strange fact considering he would likely accuse the American left of being an echo chamber of the international left.
Really Chris, you were more interesting as a leftie.

11:32 PM  
badmash said...

Not to turn this into a thread about the Hitch, but I'm also amused at his recent need to voice an opinion on everything and everybody - Orwell, Jefferson, now he's an expert on Pinter. Btw, incase the irony was not evident, what I meant to to say was that the comment was "interesting".

Anyway, back to Pinter...

3:03 PM  
Amardeep said...

Yes, I think Tom Stoppard is more on the money there.

The guy has done some great, groundbreaking stuff. People on the right are practicing a form of reverse political correctness when they criticize the choice of Pinter because of his left-wing (and sometimes misguided) politics.

4:20 PM  
radio said...

Fully agreed, badmash.

And yes, "interesting".

I hear Hitch might write a book on Carl Sagan in the future...

not really, but that's seemingly all that's left for him.

6:42 PM  

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