Our Pinteresque World

John Pilger has this to say about Harold Pinter who has been awarded the 2005 Noble Prize for Literature:


One of the reasons these mighty pirates have such a free reign is that the Anglo-American intelligentsia, notably writers, 'the people with voice' as Lord Macauley called them, are quiet or complicit or craven or twittering, and rich as a result. Thought-provokers pop up from time to time, but the English establishment has always been brilliant at de-fanging and absorbing them. Those who resist assimilation are mocked as eccentrics until they conform to their stereotype and its authorised views
The exception is Harold Pinter. The other day, I sat down to compile a list of other writers remotely like him, those 'with a voice' and an understanding of their wider responsibilites as writers. I scribbled a few names, all of them now engaged in intellectual and moral contortion, or they are asleep. The page was blank save for Pinter. Only he is the unquiet one, the untwitterer, the one with guts, who speaks out. Above all, he understands the problem
.

Pilger has Pinter’s measure. Even to visit Harold Pinter’s web page is an exercise in political engagement.

It isn’t as though this guy is a pretentious literary esthete keen to yell abuse form the sidelines only when it seemed fashionable to do so. Pinter is one of the most significant English playwrights since the Second World War. Not noted for brazenly political plays, his loyalties -- to Kafka and Beckett -- can be read as a life long dedication to the underlying end product of political reality as it pans out in the everyday lives of all of us. The tension that inhabits the social space between each Pinter character is congealed in the politics that surrounds us. His "pauses" are pauses encouraged so often by social threat and confusion. His free form menace isn’t an absurd diagnosis created for dramatic effect,but for real.

Pinter’s ear which has given us so much dramatic poetry -- with its own unique expressive cadence -- has not been wasted in the same obscurantism that one is offered by his forbears, Kafka or Beckett. While his characters may be both products and victims of an over-riding social cruelty, the confidence with which their creator engages the world of the rest of us, belies any crude attempt to read Pinter’s work as an unrelenting sentence. If any living writer expresses hope -- a hope engineered through our own collective activity -- it’s Harold Pinter. The rest, despite their erudition, often seem somewhat cowardly and apathetic.

Channels