Woe: The Passing of a Genius

The renowned British playwright, Harold Pinter, has died.  The announcement was made by his wife, the biographer Lady Antonia Fraser.

Pinter on language —  no one was better at exploring its obfuscation and its capacity for deflection, at mining the reefs and shoals of ordinary conversation.

He once said:  “The speech we hear is an indication of that which we don’t hear.  It is a necessary avoidance, a violent, sly, and anguished or mocking smoke screen which keeps the other in its true place.  When true silence falls we are left with echo but are nearer nakedness.  One way of looking at speech is to say that it is a constant stratagem to cover nakedness.”

His influence on the theatre world was enormous.  Without Pinter, there would be no David Mamet, no Sam Shepard.  Read “The Birthday Party” (brilliant, brilliant —  and, a young man’s play:  Pinter wrote it when he was only 28) or “The Homecoming.” Then, watch a Sam Shepard play, either “Buried Child” (which self first saw before son was born, at The Magic Theatre in Fort Mason —  Shepard’s spiritual home) or “Curse of the Starving Class”, staged just this fall by ACT (with, by the way, a smashing set design by the Obie and Tony-winning Filipino set designer and director Loy Arcenas).

Or watch David Mamet’s “Glengarry Glen Ross.”  Heck, watch a Coen brothers movie!

Language and its violence were his true subjects.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

4 Comments

  1. chancelucky said,

    December 25, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    I always admired the way Pinter used silence in dialogue. I think the last play I saw of his was the movie version of the Turtle Diary which was a kind of kinder gentler version of his work, yet still had that quality of imploying more with what it didn’t say than what Ben Kingsley and Glenda Jackson actually said in the script. Now, Harold Pinter himself is silent.

    off topic, but I’m amazed yet again by how they time those Nobel Prizes. My advice to anyone who should ever get one, just make sure your will is in order.

  2. December 25, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    It’s almost like they wait until you’re too old to enjoy it — much.

    I remember when he won it, three years ago, I was ecstatic.

    I’m also really happy about Doris Lessing’s.

    But, I have never heard of that French author who won it this year . . .

    And I read two novels of the guy from China who won it a few years ago, and — oh my God, I can’t believe he won! Maybe it was the combination of Sartrian existentialism with Chinese politics that proved to be his winning combination, but I felt like I was reading a novel from the 1950s . . .

  3. December 26, 2008 at 3:13 am

    A loss of a master of this beautiful language, English.

  4. December 26, 2008 at 3:27 am

    I loved Pinter, Kathleen. I read his plays in high school in Manila. I was sooo into plays in high school: Aside from Pinter, I read Jean Anouilh, John Osborne . . . and I loved Paul Dumol!


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