Harold Pinter's Politics: A Silence beyond Echo

Harold Pinter's Politics: A Silence beyond Echo

Harold Pinter's Politics: A Silence beyond Echo

Harold Pinter's Politics: A Silence beyond Echo

Synopsis

Harold Pinter's Politics examines the expression of Pinter's political beliefs across every aspect and era of his artistic career. The fierce political stances of this important dramatist have been embodied in plays, screenplays, and his career as a theatrical director. Traditionally associated with absurdism, minimalism, and the dramatization of uncertainty, Pinter's name is now a byword for anti-authoritarian and anti-American politics. This transition has been in evidence from the earliest phases of his writing; all of Pinter's work emerges from his political views. His uniqueness as a political artist is that he is pessimistic about changing his audience or making it see its complicity in the horrors of the modern world. These horrors are dramatized through images of torture and oppression culminating in moments of silence that index the full extent of the destruction unleashed by the forces of power against dissidence.

Excerpt

I’m not a theorist. I’m not an authoritative or reliable com
mentator on the dramatic scene, the social scene, any scene.
I write plays, when I can manage it, and that’s all.

—Harold Pinter, 1962 (Various Voices)

I am not concerned with making general statements.

—Harold Pinter, 1970 (Various Voices)

We all have to be very careful. the boot is itching to squash
and very efficient.

Goldberg and McCann? Dying, rotting, scabrous, the de
cayed spiders, the flower of our society…. Our mentors. Our
ancestry. Them. Fuck ‘em.

—Harold Pinter, 1958 (Various Voices)

Dear President Bush, I’m sure you’ll be having a nice little
tea party with your fellow war criminal, Tony Blair. Please
wash the cucumber sandwiches down with a glass of blood …

—Harold Pinter (Guardian, November 18, 2003)

The reader with a passing familiarity with the playwright Harold Pinter will likely be aware of several labels applied to his work. Early in his career Pinter was credited with inventing socalled “comedies of menace” such as the widely read The Birthday Party and with creating new examples of absurdist theater in plays such as The Dumb Waiter. As Pinter gained fame, the full extent of his innovative dramatic practices came to be widely recognized: the withholding of traditional exposition and the exploration of memory as unreliable, creating a sense of a mysterious world whose truths cannot be defined, as in The Caretaker; the crafting in all his plays of language faithful to everyday banality but full of mysterious depth; the unrelenting power and cruelty exercised in friendship, marriage, love, and . . .

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