Harold Pinter...Wins The 2005 Nobel Prize in Literature

Harold Pinter, whose subtext-laden plays led to the coinage of the term "Pinter pause," has been chosen as the recipient of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Literature.

The 75 year-old British playwright, who has been one of the preeminent dramatists of the last fifty years, first found acclaim with 1960's The Caretaker; it was preceded by the less-successful The Birthday Party (which was better-received in a new production a few years later). Those plays set the template for a style that would become uniquely associated with Pinter. Influenced by Samuel Beckett (who would later become a friend), Pinter's plays have been called "comedies of menace," with situations, often unfolding in a single room, revealing hidden layers of danger, malice and absurdity. Other Pinter plays include The Homecoming, Old Times, No Man's Land, Betrayal, Mountain Language, Moonlight and Celebration.

"I have written 29 plays and I think that's really enough. I think the world has had enough of my plays," Pinter stated. On the Nobel, he remarked, "I feel quite overwhelmed...I had absolutely no idea."

Pinter recently announced that he would hang up his playwriting hat to focus on writing poetry and on political activism (he fervently opposes the war against Iraq). Pinter is also known for his work as a director and actor in addition to his renown as a playwright. As a screenwriter, he penned the scripts of The Go-Between, The French Lieutenant's Woman and a never-filmed version of Proust's In Search of Lost Time, among others. The Caretaker, The Homecoming, The Birthday Party and Betrayal have all been made into films.

The Nobel Prize has only been bestowed on five other playwrights: the Italian Dario Fo in 1997, Irishman Samuel Beckett in 1969, American Eugene O'Neill in 1936, Italian Luigi Pirandello in 1934 and Irishman George Bernard Shaw in 1925.

Other playwrights waxed positive about Pinter's work. Tom Stoppard commented, "As a writer, Harold has been unswerving for 50 years. With his earliest work, he stood alone in British theater up against the bewilderment and incomprehension of critics, the audience and writers too." "Not only has Harold Pinter written some of the outstanding plays of his time, he has also blown fresh air into the musty attic of conventional English literature, by insisting that everything he does has a public and political dimension," commented David Hare.


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