Harold Pinter: The Poetics of Silence

Harold Pinter: The Poetics of Silence

Harold Pinter: The Poetics of Silence

Harold Pinter: The Poetics of Silence

Synopsis

This first full-length book on Pinter goes beyond an introductory study to an examination of the isolation characters in his plays endure and the lack of communication they bear. Dealing with Pinter's principal works, from his first play, The Room (1957),through his most recent, Silence (1969),Hollis shows that Pinter has created a new poetic, in which the real presence, silence, communicates- reflecting fears of real people searching for basic human needs.

Excerpt

In giving the subtitle The Poetics of Silence to his book on Harold Pinter, James R. Hollis shows how up to date he is, for these days we have various studies on the language of silence, the literature of silence, and the theater of silence. But Mr. Hollis is doing something more than being in the main current, for silence is one of Pinter's principles of technique; consider, for example, in his early success, The Caretaker, how many times the stage direction pause is used.

Pauses and dramatic actions taking place without the use of words are of course no new thing in the theater. In the tragedies of ancient Athens, tableaux were popular: the fastidious dramatists placed their tragic scenes offstage, and the bloody events were described by a messenger or some other supernumerary; but the "managers" put the actors on a cart they rolled in, the ekkyklema, so that the populace could see a frozen version of the horrible events. One school of thought believes that in Shakespeare's time pauses hardly existed; the actors all spoke their lines "trippingly" and didn't observe pauses; at least the plays on the Bankside went rapidly, according to the notes on timing we have. In 1924, when John Barrymore played Hamlet in London, he received a shrewdly witty letter from Bernard Shaw, criticizing him for his many pauses (during which he usually sawed the air with his profile--I saw this); Barrymore, Shaw complained, used only about half of Shakespeare's text and yet his production took up more time than full-length performances at Shakespeare's own Globe.

But most recent actors and directors have made extensive . . .

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