The Politics of Harold Pinter
2012, Vol. 4 No. 02 | pg. 4/4 | «
The laissez-faire attitude of the party-goers of Party Time facilitates the creation of a plu-reality where the party can continue for those “well-dressed creatures” while outside is a reality of “roadblocks” and “round-ups.” This is achieved through a decision to stop asking questions, to suppress inquiry, essentially to “shut up and mind your own business.”192 This statement is a culmination of the strategies that have persisted through Pinter’s plays, which have sought to isolate and suppress the voice of the individual in order to secure party time for a select few.193 Those individuals who do not choose to be party to this situation, or are excluded from the “club” of Party Time, are identified by their persistent voice. This manifests itself most obviously in Dusty’s dedicated questioning, her enquiries punctuating the “normal, secure and legitimate”194 service of the party;- however the persistence of the monologue is a reminder, amongst the debased prattle of the party-goers, that Jimmy has not been quashed. Jimmy’s sense of self, denied through the loss of his name, the loss of sight and sound, the displacement of his heartbeat, only knows himself through the darkness “in my mouth.”195 His retention of his sense of self is through the tangibility of the darkness in his mouth, which he can “suck,” and through which he can still speak. The emphasis on the sensation of his mouth, of his mouth being active and, as such, being able to speak signifies that he is still in possession of his voice and his ability to resist.
Despite their lack of physical freedom, it is the voices of the Hooded Man and the Young Woman of Mountain Language (1988) in their interlocking recollections that signify a sense of resistance and defence.196 The exchange between the voices of the man and the woman is reminiscent of those of Landscape and Night, however, here there is unity of the memories that creates a shared defence against the physical brutality of their situation. As with Beth of Landscape, it is in their memories that the Hooded Man and Young Woman find freedom and are able to preserve their ontological selves before the presumed death of the Hooded Man. It is therefore not political slogans, but rather the lyrical recollections of scenes of beauty that become the markers of resistance. The scene between the Hooded Man and Young Woman, entitled Voice in the Darkness, is similarly appropriate for Jimmy’s monologue;- however with Jimmy, the darkness has become his voice. Jimmy cannot recall the spring or a lake like the Young Woman and Hooded Man can, but he can know himself through his voice, in the darkness.The resistance of these voices, who speak of individual memory and mental sanctuary, is countered by a legal positivism which determines the validity and permissibility of these voices. The mountain language of the people of Mountain Language has been outlawed so that speaking in this language is “forbidden” and “not permitted.”197 This legal measure is enacted to quash the mountain language since it contributes to the separate identity of the mountain people. The “language of the capital”198 in installed to legally and definitively silence the people and dismantle their sense of identity.
This power to outlaw the mountain language is such that by instilling the notion that “no one is allowed to speak your language,” the language itself “no longer exists.”199 The bureaucracy and legality of the language of the capital is so powerful that by virtue of outlawing, they can make the language not simply obsolete but nonexistent. Pinter’s exploration of the power of official language to distort the distinction between what is real and what is not, is summarised in the notion that “it never happened.”200 This phrase epitomises the clinical and validated expunging of knowledge and human history that occurs when the language of the abuse of power, functioning as an Orwellian ‘memory hole,’ eradicates the narratives of human individuals.
This linguistic suppression of the voice of the individual is reinforced by physical torture and rape, which remains offstage, but to which Pinter alludes. The lack of physical violence onstage is irrelevant since the language of the torturer and the subsequent responses of the target fulfil the same requirements. However, the search for what is real, posited by Pinter the citizen, cannot ignore the existence of physical violence that exists alongside verbal battering. This physical silencing, from Aston’s Electroshock therapy, to the rape of Gila, to whatever will happen in the “thirty-five minutes”201 that will cause the Blindfolded Man to agree with the tenets of his persecutors, is the external equivalent of removing the mountain language of the elderly woman.
After the mountain language of the elderly woman has been outlawed as though “it never happened,” after the removal of Stanley’s voice and the damage to Victor’s tongue. After Aston’s shock into submission, after Jimmy’s erasure from memory, and after the renunciation of the blind Negro’s humanity. After the contracting of “twenty million dead,” and after the bureaucratisation of the dead body’s death, Pinter the playwright and Pinter the citizen’s quest to “define the real truth of our lives and our societies,”202 ends with the realisation that “there are no more words to be said.”203 After all the “scintillating stratagems”204 to ensure the total destruction of the individual comes the concrete annihilation of human life. For after words, “all we have left are the bombs.”
Celebration: A Conclusion
Though Party Time’s treatment of the destruction of the dissenting Jimmy in a midst of the party of an exclusive club can be considered an appropriate culmination of Pinter’s work, it is Celebration (1999) that is Pinter’s final, original dramatic work.205 From the metaphorical setting of Party Time, Celebration retreats back inside, to the room of a restaurant, where three couples have come to celebrate. The localised setting with London place names as markers is a movement back towards the Sidcup of The Caretaker;- however the room is a communal space, specifically designed for mingling and integrating. This demonstrates a progression from the overt fear of the Other and the 1960’s obsession with the loss of Britain206, as explored in The Room, to a tense movement towards integration and multiculturalism, since “most people in this restaurant tonight are foreigners.207” This tension is evident in statements like “you don’t have to be English to enjoy good food,”208 or “I think foreigners are charming,”209 that strive towards a display of equality, which is then undermined by the absurdity of the comments themselves.
It is the restaurant setting, the faux-sophistication of the “best restaurant in town,”210 nay, “the best and most expensive restaurant in the whole of Europe,”211 that exemplifies the aspiration to civility of each of the characters. Grounded in a nouveau riche mentality, Lambert and Julie, Prue and Matt and Russell and Suki swathe themselves in visits to the opera or the ballet, bottles of Frascati and dishes of Osso Bucho, under which lie bawdy ditties, a childhood of domestic violence and various sexual encounters behind filing cabinets. The social gathering of the restaurant, cemented with “complimentary gherkins,”212 encourages a feeling of unity and happiness that conceals the “naked aggression”213 and marital dissatisfaction, simmering beneath tables, just as the wasp of A Slight Ache buzzes beneath the lid of the marmalade pot. The restaurant, as a symbol of civility where “everyone is so happy,”214 acts as a suppressant of natural instincts, where Russell finds he has “no psychopathic tendencies,” nor does he experience his normal “absolute malice and hatred towards everyone.”215 This contained civility extends beyond the restaurant to Prue and Julie’s charity work and Matt and Lambert’s occupations as “peaceful strategy consultants…keeping the peace. Enforcing the peace.”216 This passive aggression resonates with the statements of Party Time’s Douglas when he expresses, “we want peace and we’re going to get it.”217 Coupled with Russell, the banker, these characters are the new custodians of power, which has gradually shifted from Edward, the old-moneyed colonialist, to the newly powerful businessmen, parodied and feared in Precisely. This shift signifies a reordering of the hierarchy of power, which due to the deregulation of the money markets of the 1980’s, has created great wealth for a well placed few.218
Lambert and Julie, Prue and Matt and Russell and Suki have all benefited from a socially mobile society which privileges money over taste or culture.219 All three couples have enjoyed a night at the ballet or opera but do have any idea which ballet, or indeed why there was “a lot of singing”220 at the opera. These social practices are simply a display of money, frivolity and superficial decadence.
It is the instant acquisition of culture without understanding that designates a simple simile such as “like drowning in an ocean of richness” as the work of a “poet,” reminiscent of Poliakoff’s Paul of Friends and Crocodiles, who collects artists in his mansion, that highlights the vulgarity of the clientele of the restaurant. Suki, now the wife of a banker, began as a “plump young secretary,”221 the very kind of “scrubber”222 that her husband has been having an affair with. The role-play situation of The Lover has turned into a concrete reality, whereby Richard, now Russell, has a respectable wife and a “scrubber” as a lover. The dual reality of a “whore” and a “wife” embodied in one person has been splintered into a single reality of both a “scrubber” and a “wife.” The same ambition towards power has not changed;- according to Russell, even “these secretaries, these scrubbers” love power and are just “like politicians.”223 The secretaries of his office, and formerly, Suki, use sex as a means of gaining power;- however, unlike The Homecoming’s Ruth, it is not as a means of escaping a confining situation but simply to climb further up the social ladder, and of course to “have a good laugh.”224 Unlike Ruth’s situation, sex is not a valuable commodity to trade carefully, but a frivolous and indulgent game, that masquerades as a power-struggle.
This sense of masquerade, which is usually created by Pinter using “honeyed words,”225 assumes a more carnival tone in Celebration, with the words actually functioning to deconstruct, rather than construct the illusion. The power-struggle does not occur at the level of conversation as such, but functions on the level of an individual who attempts to assume power through using their voice to make an “interjection.”226 Lambert, on the occasion of his and his wife’s anniversary thinks it appropriate to recall his love for another girl, who he used to take “for walks along the river.”227 The ensuing recollection of their courtship that occurs between Lambert and Julie is reminiscent of the conversation between the couple of Night, however in this scenario Lambert’s recollections are spiteful and highlight the lack of respect in the marriage. Lambert’s memories are not used as a defence of himself, but rather to attack his wife and denigrate the anniversary, since the recollections are of “real fucking love.”228
The interjections of the Waiter, who remains nameless, are integral to understanding the crucial difference between Celebration and Pinter’s previous plays since they dismantle the charade that is built around them. The Waiter’s interjections consist of stories of his grandfather, who was well-acquainted with everyone from Ezra Pound and Thomas Hardy to Clark Gable and Al Capone, with significant contact with Churchill and Mussolini, and thereby, “stood four square in the centre of the intellectual and literary life of the tens, twenties and thirties.”229 The Waiter’s stories, which are ludicrous and factually inaccurate, serve to highlight the indulgence and self-importance of the other characters who twice fail to respond and are left, in a sense of silence, without their words as a “stratagem to cover nakedness.”230 His final interjection is interrupted by Lambert who cuts across verbally and physically, by “standing”231 and congratulating Richard on dinner by excessively tipping him. This indulgent and gratuitous gesture reconstructs the illusion of the scenario, the fifty-pound notes papering over the cracks caused by the Waiter’s interjections.
It is only when the Waiter is alone that he is able to truly recall his grandfather, in a lyrical scene by the sea, reminiscent of Beth’s memories of her love by the sea. The purity of the Waiter’s recollections dilutes the crass conversation of the diners and restores some dignity to the situation, since his constructed stories of his grandfather contrast with the naked and open vulgarity of the other characters’ dialogue. Unlike the characters of Pinter’s previous plays Lambert and Julie, Matt and Prue and Russell and Suki do not hide behind a construct of words, it is in fact their words that reveal their naked vulgarity. Russell does not hide his contempt for Suki when he calls her a “prick,”232 Julie does not mask her desire for Richard when she tells him she’d like “to kiss him on the mouth,”233 Lambert does not conceal his need to flaunt his monetary success when he asks “do you know how much money I made last year”234- Pinter’s construction of dual realities through words is smashed. On the advent of Celebration Pinter’s mirror of words, the postmodernist duality of “never-ending range of reflections,”235 is shattered by words themselves that say exactly what they mean. What lies behind the mirror of Celebration, is a garish, nakedly vulgar, superficial cast of Lambert, Julie, Matt, Prue, Richard and Suki, as a final affront to “the dignity of man,”236 which in a return Pinteresque humour, is cause for a celebration.
Notes and Sources
1.) This term is the product of “superficial journalistic opinion,” used broadly before the 1970’s in reference to the emergent young playwrights of Pinter’s generation. See Martin Esslin. Pinter The Playwright. 6th Rev. ed. London: Methuen, 2000. Rpt. of Pinter: A Study of his Plays. 1973. Rpt. of The People Wound: The Plays of Harold Pinter. 1970 vii However it pursued Pinter as an epithet throughout his career, most notably, in the careless journalism that caused Pinter’s ‘Open Letter to The Prime Minister to be prefaced with “writer outraged.” See Michael Billington and Samuel West. “A Tribute to Harold Pinter.” Marxism 2009. The Brunei Gallery, School of Oriental and African Studies, London. 5 July. 2009.
2.) Michael Billington and Samuel West. “A Tribute to Harold Pinter.”
3.) Mel Gussow. Conversations with Pinter. (London: Nick Hern Books Ltd., 1994) 40
4.) Pinter’s non-fiction writing is collected in Various Voices: Sixty years of Prose, Poetry, Politics 1948-2008, and on his website www.haroldpinter.org, under the heading ‘Politics.’
5.) Gussow 62
6.) Writing in 1970, Martin Esslin acknowledged the disparity between Pinter and his contemporaries, by stating that he “seemed to be at variance with the then prevailing strongly political trend in theatre exemplified by other young dramatists like Osbourne, Wesker or Arden.” However, Esslin’s statement serves both the separate Pinter from these political playwrights, as he saw them, and to introduce Pinter as an existential playwright in the tradition of Beckett and Kafka. Esslin’s reading of Pinter focuses on the existentialism of his characters, which “precedes their going into the world to confront society, its politics, its ideas and issues.” According to Esslin’s reading, Pinter’s characters have no essential connection to their context, which enables characters to become allegorical figures, and voids the plays of vital realism. See Esslin 27
7.) Gussow 30
8.) The phrase ‘comedy of menace’ was first used in relation to Pinter by Irving Wardle in a review of the first production of The Birthday Party at the Arts Theatre, Cambridge, on 28 April 1958. For the history of the usage of this phrase in relation to Pinter see Susan Hollis Merritt. Pinter in Play: Critical Strategies and the Plays of Harold Pinter. 1990. Durham NC: Duke UP, 1995 225-6
9.) The quoted phrases surrounding the “terror” of Pinter’s plays are taken from contemporary reviews of The Birthday Party in 1960, A Night Out in 1960 and The Collection in 1961, by The Times. See “A Simple Play: The Birthday Party on Television.” Rev. of The Birthday Party, by Harold Pinter. Times 54727. 23 Mar. 1960: 16. 3 June 2010. “Pinter Play on Television.” Rev. A Night Out, by Harold Pinter. Times. 54754. 25 Apr. 1960: 16. 3 June 2010. “Lightweight But Lively Pinter.” Rev. The Collection, by Harold Pinter. Times. 55079. 12 May 1961: 19. 3 June 2010.
10.) Ronald Knowles. Understanding Harold Pinter. South Carolina: U of South Carolina P, 1995 18
11.) Billington and West
12.) Though Pinter’s works are primarily dramas, the focus of this exploration will be on the textuality of Pinter’s work as opposed to an analysis of dramatic performances. References to dramatic techniques such as pauses and silences are essential to this emphasis, however, they will be explored as elements of language, as opposed to dramatic techniques.
13.) For history of the usage of ‘memory plays’ see Billington The Life and Work of Harold Pinter. London: Faber, 1996 388-430
14.) The Room was first presented at the Hampstead Theatre Club on 21st January, 1960. The Homecoming was first presented by the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Aldwych Theatre on 3, June 1965.
15.) Martin Esslin. Pinter The Playwright. 6th Rev. ed. (London: Methuen, 2000. Rpt. of Pinter: A Study of his Plays. 1973. Rpt. of The People Wound: The Plays of Harold Pinter. 1970) 51
16.) The Caretaker was first presented by the Arts Theatre Club on 27, April 1960.
17.) A Slight Ache was first performed on the BBC Third Programme on 9, July 1959.
18.) The Basement was first presented by B.B.C. Television on 20, February 1967.
19.) Harold Pinter. ‘The Basement.’ Harold Pinter: Plays Three. 1991. Expanded. ed. (London: Faber and Faber Ltd, 1997) 153
20.) Pinter. ‘The Room.’ Harold Pinter: Plays One. 1976. (London: Eyre Methuen Ltd.; London: Faber and Faber Ltd, 1996) 107
21.) Pinter. The Room. 99
22.) Pinter. The Room. 87
23.) The initial introduction of the British Nationality Act of 1948 was not marked with particular concern or fear, with two thirds of British people supporting the principle of unrestricted entry in 1956. However, by 1961 a Gallup Poll found that 67% of people supported Government immigration restriction with a further 6% believing that all immigrants barred, in a complete reversal of attitude. See Sandbrook Never Had it So Good: a History of Britain from Suez to the Beatles. (London: Little Brown, 2005) 308-26
24.) Sandbrook 307
25.) Pinter. The Room. 106
26.) Pinter. The Room. 107
27.) Pinter. The Room. 107
28.) The social realism of Osbourne’s Look Back in Anger is achieved through contextually specific details and references such as Colonel Renfrew’s lament on the end of Empire, “At the time, it looked like going on for ever. When I think of it now, it seems like a dream. If only it could have gone on for ever. Those long, cool evenings in the hills, everything purple and golden. Your mother and I were so happy then. It seemed as though we could have everything we could ever want. I think the last day the sun shone was when that dirty little train steamed out of the crowded, suffocating Indian station, and the battalion band playing for all it was worth. I knew in my heart it was all over then. Everything,” that could not be in reference to any other historical situation. See Osbourne quoted in Sandbrook 283
29.) Pinter. The Room. 107
30.) See Esslin- Introduction
31.) Pinter. ‘The Birthday Party.’ Harold Pinter: Plays One. 54
32.) Pinter. The Birthday Party 42
33.) Gussow 71
34.) Pinter. ‘A Slight Ache.’ Harold Pinter: Plays One. 167
35.) Pinter. A Slight Ache 179
36.) Pinter. A Slight Ache 161
37.) The loss of Belgian control of The Congo became symbolic of swift de-colonialisation which instigated fear amongst other colonialist countries about the rate of de-colonialisation as a whole. See Sandbrook 271
38.) Pinter. A Slight Ache 161
39.) Pinter. A Slight Ache 177
40.) Chinue Achebe. "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness'" Massachusetts Review. 18. 1977. Rpt. in Heart of Darkness, An Authoritative Text, background and Sources Criticism. 1961. 3rd ed. Ed. Robert Kimbrough, London: Norton, 1988. 251-261
41.) Pinter.‘Writing for the Theatre.’ Harold Pinter: Plays One. xiii
42.) Pinter. A Slight Ache 163
43.) A Night Out was first performed on the B.B.C. Third Programme on 1, March 1960.
44.) Pinter. ‘A Night Out.’ Harold Pinter: Plays One. 1976. 331
45.) Pinter. A Night Out. 335
46.) Pinter. A Night Out. 335
47.) Pinter. A Night Out. 359
48.) Pinter. A Night Out. 369
49.) The Collection was first presented by Association Rediffusion Television, London, on 11, May 1961.
50.) Indian independence and the Suez crisis of 1956 were “powerful blows to the old dreams of national pre-eminence and imperial dominion.” However, it was the loss of Empire that confirmed the impression that British identity and dominance was under serious threat. Though Dominic Sandbrook argues that the loss of Empire had no immediate impact on the general consciousness of the ordinary British citizen and was met with nothing but “cold pessimism,” it was the Right, characterised by conservative journalist Peregrine Worsthorne, that was “actutely aware that the kind of Britain it wishes to preserve very largely depend(ed) on Britain remaining a great power.” However, Sandbrook argues that since Empire was part of the foundation of British identity, its dissolution “made a difference to the way the British saw themselves and their place in the world,” and signalled “invariable repercussions at home.” See Sandbrook 282-9
51.) Pinter.‘The Collection.’ Harold Pinter: Plays Two. 1977. (London: Eyre Methuen Ltd.; London: Faber and Faber Ltd, 1996) 143
52.) Pinter The Collection 143
53.) Pinter The Collection 143
54.) Pinter The Collection 142
55.) Pinter. ‘The Old Days.’ Various Voices: Sixty Years of Prose, Poetry, Politics 1948-2008. 1998. Rev. ed. (London: Faber and Faber Ltd, 2009) 190
56.) Orwell’s observations also consider the use of adjectives such as “epoch-making, epic, historic, unforgettable, triumphant, age-old, inevitable, veritable” that are used for similar purposes, archaic language to glorify war and foreign words and expression to “give an air of culture and elegance.” See Orwell,‘Politics and the English Language.’131
57.) Pinter The Room 110
58.) The Lover was presented by Association-Rediffusion Television, London, 28, March 1963.
59.) Pinter The Lover 155
60.) Pinter The Lover 150-63
61.) Pinter The Lover 150
62.) Pinter The Lover 162
63.) Pinter The Lover 155
64.) Harman 551
65.) Pinter’s treatment of feminist issues such as sexual liberation anticipates the feminist movement which was ushered in in the late 1960’s, with radical feminist groups meeting for the first time and the term “women’s liberation” being used for the first time in 1967. Women’s writing, manifest in Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex which was first published in 1952 without making much impact, was strengthened by other feminist publication such as Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique (1963) which sold a million copies in the USA and UK by 1970. By the 1970’s “a succession of feminist analyses has appeared, including Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch (1971), Kate Millet’s Sexual Politics (1971), Betty Friedan’s It Changed My Life (1976), and Shulamith Firestone’s The Dialectic of Sex (1980).” However, the less-didactic writing of more mainstream novelists “may have been as important in preparing the way for women’s liberation as the more obvious feminist tracts and manifestos,” and in this respect Pinter’s plays can be considered alongside the work of novelist such as Iris Murdoch Margaret Drabble, Doris Lessing and D.H. Lawrence. See Pugh. Women and the Women’s Movement in Britain 1914-1999 322-23 Pinter’s prescient treatment of the sex-industry (further explored in the motivations of The Homecoming’s Ruth) can even be said to coincide with the sex-positivism of third-wave feminism. See Johnson, ed. Jane Sexes It Up: True Confessions of Feminist Desire.
66.) Pinter The Lover 174
67.) The Homecoming was first presented by the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Aldwych Theatre on 3, June 1965.
68.) Gussow 71
69.) Pinter. ‘The Homecoming.’ Harold Pinter: Plays Three. 58
70.) Pinter The Homecoming 85
71.) Christopher Innes. Modern British Drama 1890-1990. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1995 280
72.) Innes 280
73.) The proliferation of the Pill in the 1960’s, after its introduction in 1961, was “perceived and experienced as liberating, emancipatory and exciting.” This new form of female-controlled contraception signalled an end to the “narrative of women’s desperate attempts to control their own bodies and divorce sex from reproduction,” and represented a form of female resistance in the sexual and social sphere. See Fisher Birth Control, Sex and Marriage 8, 238-9
74.) Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Trans. Robert Hurley, Mark Seam and Helen R. Lane. (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1983) 105
75.) Pinter The Lover 177
76.) Michel Foucault. “An Introduction to the Non-Fascist Life.” Preface. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. By Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. Trans. Robert Hurley, Mark Seam and Helen R. Lane. (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1983) xiii
77.) Pinter. 'The Caretaker.’ Harold Pinter: Plays Two. 21
78.) Pinter The Caretaker 6
79.) Pinter The Caretaker 13
80.) Pinter The Caretaker 11
81.) Pinter The Caretaker 18
82.) Pinter The Caretaker 19
83.) Pinter The Caretaker 30
84.) Pinter The Caretaker 30
85.) Gary Younge. Who Are We- And Should it Matter in the 21st Century. New York: Viking, 2010
86.) Pinter The Caretaker 31
87.) Pinter The Caretaker 6
88.) Pinter The Caretaker 62
89.) Harman, Chris. A People’s History of the World: From the Stone Age to the New Millennium. London: Verso, 2008 548
90.) Pinter The Caretaker 25
91.) Of the aspects of British life that were influenced by post-war immigration, “none was so quickly or visibly transformed as the nation’s diet.” During the 1950’s and 1960’s hundreds of new establishments were set up throughout Britain, creating a culinary integration which one was of cases of successful multi-racial co-operation during this period.
92.) Pinter The Caretaker 25
93.) Pinter The Caretaker 57
94.) Pinter The Caretaker 6
95.) Pinter The Caretaker 71
96.) Pinter The Caretaker 18s
97.) Baudrillard’s statement that “any culture that becomes universal loses its singularity and dies,” is premised on the conflict between the positive intentions of universalisation, including genuine democratization and visibly equal human rights and the process of globalisation that creates a levelling, not in terms of equality but in terms uniformity. See Baudrillard “The Violence of the Global.” This is consistent with Orwell’s observation on the usage of the word democracy, that “not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides,” since the more abstracted a word becomes, the more generally and deceptively it can be applied. See Orwell 132
98.) According to Ronald Knowles, Pinter’s ‘memory plays’ mark a disjunction between character and environment that highlights a disparity between the social and existential identities of characters. This interpretation invalidates most of Duff’s testimony, which would otherwise serve to explain the quality and particulars of Beth’s dialogue. See Knowles Understanding Harold Pinter.15
99.) Pinter. ‘Landscape.’ Harold Pinter: Plays Three. 166
100.) Landscape was first presented on radio by the B.B.C. on 25, April 1968.
101.) Pinter Landscape 183
102.) Pinter Landscape 166
103.) Silence was first presented by the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Aldwych Theatre on 2, July 1969.
104.) Gussow 28-9
105.) Ann C. Hall. A Kind of Alaska: Women in the Plays of O’Neill, Pinter, and Shepard. (Illinois: Southern Illinois UP, 1993) 57
106.) In this sense there is a correlation between these plays and Beckett’s ‘That Time’ in terms of voices and dialogue that do not correspond or relate. However, Pinter’s plays are placed within settings and as such pertain to a “denotative and specific” realism that is not visible in Beckett’s “metaphysical and universal” plays. See Knowles “Pinter and Twentieth-Century Drama.” The Cambridge Companion to Harold Pinter. Ed. Peter Raby. Cambridge Companions to Lit. 2001. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2009. 74-88
107.) Pinter Landscape 173
108.) Pinter Landscape 170
109.) It is Pinter’s commitment to language that, for John Stokes, mistakenly allowed critics to ignore “the reality of the social experience that produced it.” Stokes, however, acknowledges that beneath language, and indeed through language, a political reality can be revealed. See Stokes “Pinter and the 1950’s.” The Cambridge Companion to Harold Pinter. Ed. Peter Raby. Cambridge Companions to Lit. 2001. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2009. 31
110.) Pinter Landscape 171
111.) Pinter Landscape 188
112.) Pinter Landscape 177
113.) Samuel West. “Remembering Mahmoud Darwish.” Marxism 2010. Upper Hall. University of London Union, London. 4 July. 2010
114.) Pinter Landscape 187
115.) Old Times was first presented by the Shakespeare Company at the Aldwych Theatre, London, on 1, June 1971. Night was first presented at the Comedy Theatre on 9, April 1969.
116.) Pinter ‘Writing for the Theatre.’ ix-x
117.) Pinter. ‘A View of the Party.’ Various Voices: Sixty Years of Prose, Poetry, Politics 1948-2008 164
118.) Pinter’s poetic depiction of The Birthday Party in ‘A View of the Party’ necessarily strips away dialogue and focuses on crucial aspects of the situation which are the loss of memory, dislocation of time and impotent of will. See Pinter ‘A View of the Party’ 164
119.) Pinter.‘Writing for the Theatre.’ Harold Pinter: Plays One. ix
120.) Charles Grimes interprets one of the principal themes of Pinter’s politics as being the notion of “individual freedom from arbitrary power.” See Grimes, 2005.
121.) Victoria Station was presented as part of a triple bill, Other Places, first performed at the National Theatre, London on 14, October 1982.
122.) Pinter. ‘Victoria Station.’ Harold Pinter: Plays Four. 1993. Expanded. ed. (London: Faber and Faber Ltd, 2005) 205
123.) Pinter Victoria Station 203
124.) Family Voices was first broadcast on B.B.C. Radio 3 on 22, January 1981.
125.) Pinter. ‘Family Voices.’ Harold Pinter: Plays Four. 132
126.) A Kind of Alaska was presented with Victoria Station and Family Voices as part of the triple bill, Other Places, first performed at the National Theatre, London, 14, October 1982.
127.) Pinter. ‘A Kind of Alaska.’ Harold Pinter: Plays Four 151
128.) Pinter. ‘Art, Truth, Politics: The Nobel Lecture.’ Various Voices: Sixty Years of Prose, Poetry, Politics 1948-2008 293
129.) “Civil servants of Truth” is quoted from Michel Foucault. “An Introduction to the Non-Fascist Life.” xii
130.) Gary Younge. Who Are We- And Should it Matter in the 21st Century. New York: Viking, 2010
131.) Gussow 40
132.) Pinter ‘The Old Days’ 190
133.) Pinter The New World Order 277
134.) No Man’s Land was first presented by the National Theatre at the Old Vic, Waterloo, London, 23, April 1975.
135.) Pinter. ‘No Man’s Land.’ Harold Pinter: Plays Three 355
136.) One for the Road was first presented at the Lyric Theatre Studio, Hammersmith, in March 1984.
137.) Pinter. ‘One for the Road.’ Harold Pinter: Plays Four 232
138.) Pinter Art, Truth, Politics: The Nobel Lecture 293
139.) Pinter One for the Road 232
140.) For further information on Pinter’s visit to Turkey see Gussow 68
141.) Pinter One for the Road 227
142.) The term “full spectrum dominance” is used US military doctrine which seeks control over all areas of battlefield, that is land, air, sea and space. See Pinter. ‘Art, Truth, Politics: The Nobel Lecture.’ 298 Pinter’s acknowledgement of the shift from ‘low intensity conflict’ to “full spectrum dominance” is paralleled in his work from the societal concentration of the early works, to the global scales invokes in his later plays.
143.) Pinter. ‘The New World Order.’ 275
144.) Precisely was first performed in The Big One at the Apollo Theatre, London, on 18, December 1983.
145.) Harold Pinter. ‘Precisely.’ Harold Pinter: Plays Four 218
146.) Pinter Precisely 219
147.) This is exemplified in ‘Latest Report from the Stock Exchange’, which reports chronic world events in terms of bulletins on the stock exchange reports. “All quiet on Wall Street,” is hauntingly reminiscent of “all quiet on the Western front,” which serves to unify the notion of warfare and death being understood in monetary terms. See Pinter. ‘Latest Report from the Stock Exchange’ Various Voices: Sixty Years of Prose, Poetry, Politics 1948-2008 92
148.) Patricia Waugh. The Harvest of the Sixties: English Literature and its Background 1960-1990. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1995 84
149.) Pinter. ‘Death.’ Various Voices: Sixty Years of Prose, Poetry, Politics 1948-2008 282
150.) Pinter ‘Death’ 282
151.) The Dumb Waiter was first presented at the Hampstead Theatre Club on 21, January 1960.
152.) Pinter. ‘The Dumb Waiter.’ Harold Pinter: Plays One 129
153.) Pinter The Dumb Waiter 137
154.) The Hothouse was first presented at Hampstead Theatre, London, 24, April 1980 however Pinter wrote The Hothouse in the winter of 1958. Pinter’s note on the play reads “I put it aside for further deliberation and made no attempt to have it produced at the time. I then went on to write The Caretaker. In 1979 I re-read The Hothouse and decided it was worth presenting on the stage. I made a few changes during the rehearsal, mainly cuts.” See Pinter ‘The Hothouse.’ Harold Pinter: Plays One 186
155.) Pinter. The Hothouse 219
156.) Pinter The Hothouse 219
157.) Pinter The Hothouse 272
158.) Pinter ‘The New World Order’ Harold Pinter: Plays Four 277
159.) Pinter One for the Road 246. The progression from “generations to come” to “God” can be traced chronologically through Pinter’s work and reinforces the Orwellian concern for the abstraction of meaning in words so that they no longer function demonstratively, but rather denotatively.
160.) Orwell concludes his analysis of the atrophy of the word democracy by surmising “It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it.” See Orwell 132
161.) Pinter One for the Road 227
162.) Pinter One for the Road 228
163.) Gussow 73
164.) Pinter No Man’s Land 325
165.) Pinter No Man’s Land 324
166.) Pinter. ‘After Lunch.’ Various Voices: Sixty Years of Prose, Poetry, Politics 1948-2008 275
167.) Party Time was first performed by the Almeida Theatre Company on 31, October 1991.
168.) Pinter. ‘Party Time.’ Harold Pinter: Plays Four 299
169.) Pinter Party Time 310
170.) Pinter recalls having been reprimanded for his use of the word ‘genitals’ at the US Embassy in Ankara in March 1985. His observation follows the argument that the Ambassador was more offended by Pinter’s use of a particular word than of the reality of the situation, whereby electric current on genitals is used as a form of torture. See Pinter ‘Blowing up the Media.’ Various Voices: Sixty Years of Prose, Poetry, Politics 1948-2008. 223
171.) Susan Hollis Merritt. Pinter in Play: Critical Strategies and the Plays of Harold Pinter 1990. Durham NC: Duke UP, 1995. 179
172.) Pinter. ‘American Football.’ Various Voices: Sixty Years of Prose, Poetry, Politics 1948-2008 280
173.) Pinter The Caretaker 53
174.) Pinter ‘Blowing up the Media’ 223
175.) Pinter The Caretaker 53
176.) Pinter The Caretaker 52
177.) Pinter The Caretaker 53
178.) Pinter The Caretaker 53
179.) In the 1980’s Pinter’s political position became more widely known through his involvement in PEN, Amnesty International and the 20 June Group and a growing concern for censorship and civil liberties. See Gussow 65. As a consequence, those plays that have become definitively contextualised by events that Pinter has commented on publicly. Though these plays have been openly aligned to events such as the visit to Turkey by Pinter himself, this should not detract from “what’s happening in England today, the suppression of ideas, speech and though,” that reaffirm One for the Road’s continuity with The Birthday Party. See Gussow 68.
180.) Michael Ignatieff quoted in William H. Thornton. “Back to Basics: Human Rights and Power Politics in the New Moral Realism.” International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society 14.2 (Winter 2000): 315-32. 316
181.) Pinter. ‘Art, Truth, Politics: The Nobel Lecture.’ 299
182.) Gussow 85
183.) Pinter Precisely 219
184.) Pinter. ‘Art, Truth, Politics: The Nobel Lecture.’ 293
185.) Pinter ‘American Football’ 280
186.) Pinter ‘Writing for Theatre’ xiii
187.) New World Order was first performed on 19, July 1991.
188.) Pinter The Birthday Party 80
189.) Pinter One for the Road 240
190.) Pinter Party Time 284
191.) In contrast, the ideal citizen of the state of One for the Road is Gila’s father, since he is deceased. The dead are without a voice and are lauded as men of “iron and gold,” the same iron and gold that can be awarded posthumously, in the form of military decoration.
192.) Pinter Party Time 280
193.) Thatcherism in Britain signalled a period in which the disjunction between realities become even more pronounced, with “champagne imports double, while it was discovered that in economically blighted areas of the country scavengers picked on rubbish heaps for a living.” See Knowles 198
194.) Pinter Party Time 313
195.) Pinter Party Time 314
196.) Mountain Language was first performed at the National Theatre on 20, October 1988.
197.) Pinter. ‘Mountain Language.’ Harold Pinter: Plays Four 256
198.) Pinter Mountain Language 256
199.) Pinter Mountain Language 256
200.) Pinter. ‘It Never Happened.’ Various Voices: Sixty Years of Prose, Poetry, Politics 1948-2008 234
201.) Pinter The New World Order 278
202.) Pinter ‘Art, Truth, Politics: The Nobel Lecture’ 300
203.) Pinter. ‘The Bombs.’ Various Voices: Sixty Years of Prose, Poetry, Politics 1948-2008 277
204.) Pinter ‘Art, Truth, Politics: The Nobel Lecture’ 293
205.) Celebration was first presented in a double bill with The Room at the Almeida Theatre, London, on 16, March 2000.
206.) Waugh 3
207.) Pinter. ‘Celebration.’ Harold Pinter: Plays Four 300
208.) Pinter Celebration 482
209.) Pinter Celebration 500
210.) Pinter Celebration 454
211.) Pinter Celebration 460
212.) Pinter Celebration 477
213.) Pinter Celebration 478
214.) Pinter Celebration 475
215.) Pinter Celebration 475
216.) Pinter Celebration 497
217.) Pinter Party Time 292
218.) Knowles. Understanding Harold Pinter. South Carolina: U of South Carolina P, 1995 198
219.) As such, Celebration becomes “a microcosm of post-Thatcherite Britain, a society dominated by greed and dumbed-down educational and intellectual standards,” and heralds the betrayal of the Blair government which perpetuated the divide between rich and poor under the iconic, and now deeply ironic banner, ‘Things Can Only Get Better.’
220.) Pinter Celebration 464
221.) Pinter Celebration 444
222.) Pinter Celebration 443
223.) Pinter Celebration 443
224.) This contrasts sharply with the “kind of vitality in the world” that Pinter grew up in, which has now become “sullen, bewildered, secret, aggressive and alarming.” See Gussow 116. The activisim of Ruth has become the amusement of Suki which is in keeping with the general atmosphere of the times is “nobody’s interested anymore…this is the world, there’s nothing to be done about it and anyway, fuck it, who cares.” See Pinter ‘It Never Happened’ 237
225.) Pinter Celebration 478
226.) Pinter Celebration 466
227.) Pinter Celebration 471
228.) Pinter Celebration 472
229.) Pinter Celebration 468
230.) Harold Pinter.‘Writing for the Theatre.’ Harold Pinter: Plays One. xiii
231.) Pinter Celebration 502
232.) Pinter Celebration 450
233.) Pinter Celebration 459
234.) Pinter Celebration 451
235.) Pinter. ‘Art, Truth, Politics: The Nobel Lecture.’300
236.) Pinter. ‘Art, Truth, Politics: The Nobel Lecture.’300
Suggested Reading from Inquiries Journal
Inquiries Journal provides undergraduate and graduate students around the world a platform for the wide dissemination of academic work over a range of core disciplines.
Representing the work of students from hundreds of institutions around the globe, Inquiries Journal's large database of academic articles is completely free. Learn more | Blog | Submit
Latest in Literature
What are you looking for?