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R.I.P. Harold Pinter, 1930-2008

“Harold Pinter, who died at the age of 78 on Christmas Eve, was very likely the only writer ever to win the Nobel Prize, the French Légion d’honneur, and inspire an episode of Seinfeld. He was also a towering enough figure in modern theater to lend his name to a word: “Pinteresque.” It was most commonly used in reference to the famous pauses written into his plays, and many a theater lover born during or after Pinter’s first period of success knew long before discovering his plays that describing the sight of an actor daring the audience to wonder if he’d just forgotten his lines as Pinteresque was an easy way of seeming smart. More generally, and more and more as Pinter’s career went on, it came to stand for the whole mysterious, threatening world he created on stage, a place where everyone seemed to be nursing a secret grudge and perpetually squaring off against and testing each other, and the balance of power kept shifting. Pinter, who attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1948, entered theater as an actor and spent twelve years struggling to get by as a member of various repertory companies; for about half that time, he performed under the name “David Baron.” His time as a starving young actor in London overlapped with that of Michael Caine, and Caine has often enjoyed telling interviewers about the time good old “David” stormed out of the pub, saying that he was bloody sick to death of this bloody business and was going home to try to write something.”

via The Screengrab.

2 thoughts on “R.I.P. Harold Pinter, 1930-2008

  1. Thanks, Sonny, that was an important counterpoint, although it is not axiomatic as the author makes it that there is no way to be an absolutist pacifist. A former high school teacher of mine, for example, just sent me a copy she had had in her files of my essay establishing my own pacifist convictions in support of my conscientious objector application to the Selective Service. Granted, quite unfairly, to qualify as a CO you had to be opposed to all war and not just particular conflicts, so one had to address the “just war” argument in some detail (and sometimes, I suspect, more absolutely than was true for some applicants for conscientious objector status during the Vietnam War). If it weren’t so out of fashion these days, I have thought I might post my essay here, or somewhere on the web. Not ashamed of my convictions, and they are a historical document…

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