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Saturday Feature
 
NOBEL PRIZE FOR LITERATURE
Academy honours Pinter
Jan Dalley
10/22/2005
 

          In a belated announcement, amid rumours of controversy, the Swedish Academy made on October 13 the surprise announcement that the Nobel Prize for Literature 2005 was to go to the British dramatist Harold Pinter.
Pinter's 75th birthday was celebrated on October 10. Certainly the most influential playwright of his generation, Pinter is no stranger to awards. As well as a fistful of literary accolades, in 2002 he was made a Companion of Honour for services to literature. He is the first Briton since V.S. Naipaul in 2001 to win the Nobel prize of 10m Swedish kronor (about 730,000), the greatest of them all.
Pinter's playwriting career began in 1957 with The Room. Earlier this year, after 29 plays that included The Caretaker, The Birthday Party and other defining classics of the era, he announced his decision to write no more for the stage. However, his birthday on October 10 was marked by a radio play, Voices, which emphasised his commitment to political freedoms.
As ever, there is a strong political dimension to the award. The Nobel Academy emphasised the way Pinter "uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression's closed rooms" and praised a lifetime's work whose "political themes can be seen as a development of the early Pinter's analysing of threat and injustice".
Pinter was born to a Jewish family in London, and has talked of the influence of his early experiences of anti-Semitism. After many years of criticism of US foreign policy, his political engagement has recently become even more vocal: a 2003 poem called "God Bless America" runs "Here they go again/The Yanks in their, armoured parade/Chanting their ballads of joy/As they gallop across the big world/ Praising America's God."
His outspoken criticism of Tony Blair ("a deluded idiot") over the Iraq war extended to a call for the UK leader's impeachment.
He remains a giant figure in world theatre of the past half century. There was Shakespearean. There was Chekhovian. And there is Pinteresque.

 

 
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