The Playgoer: Pinter postscripts

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Monday, October 31, 2005

Pinter postscripts

In case you missed it, the inestimable Feingold did indeed write a Pinter tribute, but the Voice only published it online! But it's a must-read nonetheless.

Unlike those who have forced a "split" between Pinter the playwright and that other "political" guy, Feingold makes the best and clearest case so far about why they are and always have been inseparable. Money quote:

When the news of the Nobel award broke, many reporters mentioned Pinter's outspoken opposition to the war in Iraq, but this was no surprise to those who have followed Pinter's public outcries, both in his works and in active political statement, against torture, against the suppression of artists and journalists, against ethnic hatred and violence. The gratifying paradox is that his stance on these matters has carried weight globally precisely because of the powerful role that violence, torture, and degradation play in his works, from the time of his very earliest plays, like The Room and The Birthday Party. Pinter, the world can agree, is an artist who fully understands the human heart's potential for cruelty, and one of the rare ones who has been able to express it without exploitation. From the interrogation of Stanley in The Birthday Party and the tormenting of Davies in The Caretaker to the evocation of torture in One for the Road and gulags in Mountain Language, Pinter eschews all possibility of letting his audience revel in violence. It is there because it is in us; disconcertingly, he puts a human face on it so that we can see it in ourselves. At such moments the silences in Pinter test the extremes of human behavior: They are the silence of resistance, of terrified or complacent acquiescence, of outrage.

Feingold also reminds us that Pinter's political work has consisted of much more than just writing derided playlets--he's been an active campaigner for PEN, travelling the world to lobby for writers' free expression. You're telling me that's irrelevant to the Nobel Prize???

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