The politics of Harold Pinter’s work are not derived from any ideological affinity with a specific political position, or indeed from any clearly defined ideological base or contemporary party politics. Pinter’s dramatic and poetic works do not scrutinise government politics or rail against those politics in a thinly veiled dramatic polemic. Pinter’s work is not the product of the “angry playwright” that the popular media chose to designate him as. From an early age Pinter himself was engaged in the politics of the world around him, at eighteen he registered as a conscientious objector displaying a disgust at Cold War politics and The Labour Party’s endorsement of American nuclear presence on British soil. As a citizen, Pinter became a member of an anti-apartheid organisation and was horrified at the events he saw taking place in Vietnam and South Africa. Later, Pinter, along with Arthur Miller, visited Turkey and publicly condemned the human rights’ abuses he witnessed there, he attended an anti-Thatcher discussion group and wrote numerous public condemnations of American and British foreign policy since the end of The Second World War, the most notable being his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Art, Truth and Politics. As a citizen, Pinter’s active political engagement is well-documented, with a general consensus held on his political stance, but as a playwright Pinter’s work is less easily categorised.
From the early days of The Room (1957) and The Birthday Party (1958), the inability to place Pinter alongside his contemporaries baffled critics and created spurious definitions of the nature of his work. Pinter’s disassociation with the mainstream, his lack of affinity with the “very, very strong young wave of political playwrights,” of Kitchen Sink dramas, or the absurdism of Beckett (with whom he didn’t see where he could “relate at all,”) left critics bereft of a sufficient basis on which to characterise his work. Subsequently, Pinter’s works were dubbed ‘comedies of menace,’ thought to be dealing in “unlocalised terror,” “unspeakable terror,” or an atmosphere that is “before all else, of terror.” His early plays, those “comedies of menace” through to the ‘memory plays,’ to the later, ‘overtly political’ plays, are not founded on a subscription to a specific political position, or concerned with general abstract notions of “terror,” but are a sustained and constant focus of Pinter’s own political concerns, borne of his own engagement with, and consciousness of, the world around him.
This engagement and direct awareness is manifested in the potential multi-representational allusions of Pinter’s dramatic works. From the McCarthyist interrogations of The Hothouse
’s Gibbs and Cutts and the definitive McCarthyism of Interview
, the IRA presence of The Birthday Party
, the post-colonial immigration of The Room
and The Caretaker
, the human rights’ abuses of totalitarian regimes in Turkey of One for the Road
, to the political bureaucracy of British and American foreign policy in Precisely
, Pinter engages with the political concerns of the world around him. As Ronald Knowles remarks, “understanding Pinter involves understanding society as the twentieth century draws to a close.” However, it is Pinter’s engagement with the consequences of these activities of government and global politics that resonate more substantially and profoundly as central preoccupations of Pinter’s political engagement. As such, Pinter’s work begins in medias res, after the establishment of government policy or social philosophy, at the stage where this process has been distilled and localised to focus on how it affects the smallest unit of society, the individual.
Pinter’s politics are premised on power-structured relationships and, in particular, how social relations involving authority and power threaten the autonomy and importance of the individual. Pinter’s individuals, from The Caretaker’s Davies, to Party Time’s Jimmy, are established through the creation of individual identities that subvert generic classifications such as name, racial group or nationality. These broad classifications, which compromise individual identity, are undermined throughout Pinter’s work through establishing the importance of the voice of the individual. Through their involvement in political power struggles and relationships, Pinter’s individuals struggle to retain their sense of self. This preservation of the self is achieved through several means, including establishing their own sense of space, usually a room or a home, fiercely guarding private memories as retainers of individual experience, and preserving a voice, as the foundation of individual expression and resistance. Pinter’s power struggles occur at the level of charged dialogue, through to physical power, which are, respectively, weighted against the defence of the individual. His politics are those of a struggle between power and powerlessness, induced by an “instinctive moral rage” against any injustice which strives to erode the validity of the individual, as an individual.
Pinter’s exploration of the politics of the destruction of the individual centres on the uses and abuses of language. These explorations in language range from the bombardment of language through interrogation methods, which serve to distort meanings and significances in words, to the complete debasement of language by organised, official systems of rhetoric. Through this societal and global process, Pinter identifies and studies cases of the individual voice, from Aston’s broken voice of The Caretaker, to the voices of defence of the ‘memory plays’, through to the voices of protest of Mountain Language and One for the Road. As Pinter’s scale of focus evolves from the social-scapes of the plays of Chapter One, to individual studies in Chapter Two, through to global power-structures in Chapter Three, so he moves from an exploratory role as a playwright, to a more assertive and questioning role as a citizen, in the search for Truth, amidst art and politics. Pinter’s later plays in particular are informed by his public, non-fiction statements, however, these serve to inform his dramatic and poetic works as critical co-ordinates and not as substitutes for the works themselves. Though there is an evolution in the contexts and approaches that Pinter adopts, from his exploratory outset to his return as citizen, the constant focus of his work remains on the preservation of the dignity of the individual in relation and resistance to these power-structures.
Pinter’s early works, beginning with The Room (1957) through to the production of The Homecoming (1964) establish an understanding of Pinter’s political preoccupations through an exploration of rooms, spaces and unwelcome guests. Closed rooms that act as personal spaces of refuge and containers of the self, are indicative of the displacement of the individual in a hostile and exclusive society. Martin Esslin’s identification of Pinter’s basic situation as “a room, a room with a door; outside the door a cold, hostile world,” is a useful blueprint for configuring Pinter’s space socially and thematically. Pinter’s rooms have become a hallmark of his dramatic work; they are secluded and fiercely private spaces where the occupier can feel safe and distinct from the collectivism of the wider society. The habitation and ownership of a room affords a private and secure physical space but is also an important aspect in establishing a separate and contained identity. As such, it is variables of these spaces that are crucial to understanding certain aspect of Pinter’s characters:- for example, those characters who occupy a room within a house, such as The Room’s Rose and Bert, or Mick and Aston of The Caretaker, (1959) are broadly working class characters who struggle to maintain a small space within the confines of a larger house. Pinter’s depictions of middle-class characters, such as Edward and Flora of A Slight Ache, (1958) can be characterised by their habitation of rooms within a house of which they have full ownership. The responsibility of ownership creates a dichotomy between the enjoyment of a private home and the fear of losing that individual space. This dichotomy becomes greater as ownership becomes more established, since the greater the one’s investment is in the space, the more of the self there is to lose.
The rooms themselves become imbued with the power struggle that takes place between the competing individuals. The room of The Basement (1966) reflects the power shift between Stott and Law through the changes that occur in the furnishings of the room. A shift from a floor covering of an “Indian rug” to “marble tiles” indicates Stott’s new ownership of the room, as he turns off a lamp, so Law’s power is dimmed. The furnishings of the room become steeped with a historical narrative that can be read as a text of the power struggle between Law and Stott. Although the furnishing are indicative of a shift in power, it is Law’s initial entry into the room which marks the beginning of the end of Stott’s tenancy. The intrusion of another into the private space of a Pinter character, from Goldberg and McCann’s forced entry into the seaside boarding house where Stanley is a fixed resident, to Rose’s fear of “these creeps come in, smelling up my room,” is a thematic basis for the destruction of the individual in these early works.
Trespassing on rooms and forced entry into space initiates a breach of the security that becomes crucial to the preservation of identity. It is not simply that an intruder has entered the room, but rather that the intruder has violated the identity of the unwitting host. Though this can be seen as prompting an existential crisis in the individual, this interpretation alone cannot be sustained given the relevance of the contextual reference points that mark the socially realistic aspects of the play. Rose takes pride in the fact that “we keep ourselves to ourselves…we’ve got our room. We don’t bother anyone else,” since her fear of unwelcome intrusion is so great that it becomes a barricade between herself and the suspected “foreigners” who also occupy the building. This fear of both physical intrusion and existential invasion is not simply pathological, but rather is the product of a society where the exclusion of the other is promoted. Such a society is one that passed the British Nationality Act in 1948, allowing subjects of the British Empire to take up residence and work in the U.K. and then annexed the aforementioned Act in 1971 in order to ensure a decline in the number of immigrants arriving in the U.K. Concern and fear about the level of the immigration of citizens from British colonies in the West Indies, aggravated by political discourse such as Enoch Powell’s Rivers of Blood speech (1968), made immigrants into “the objects of suspicion, prejudice and contempt.” Accordingly, the entry of “a blind Negro” into Rose’s secluded and guarded room provokes the reaction, “enough’s enough. You can take liberty too far, you know.” Here further indictment of the blind Negro, “what do you want? You force your way up here. You disturb my evening…what do you want?” could pass for the anti-immigration political rhetoric of the Right that is both contextually specific and has been applied elsewhere from the influx of Indian workers in the 1960’s to early 21st century Polish immigration.
It is Pinter’s emphasis on the control and manipulation of political rhetoric, rather than contextually specific detail- that affords the plays this universality that the contemporary discourse of Look Back in Anger (1956) could not sustain. Pinter is able to successfully incorporate rhetoric such as “they come in here and stink the place out. After a handout,” into dramatic dialogue itself, which prevents the plays from becoming straightforwardly didactic. However, it is this same characteristic that have been used to identify these early plays as non-political, but rather dramatisations of existential crises.
Early reviews of The Birthday Party ignore any political aspect, be it the numerous and frequent allusions to Ireland, through references to “the Black and Tans,” “bold Fenian men” and potentially, “the organisation,” to the very act of the forced interrogation of a young man by two threatening strangers in his own home. Instead The Birthday Party is summarised as a play about, “a former concert pianist who, for some obscure reason, is afraid of two commercial travellers who put up at the boarding house at which he is staying.” Though the specifics of the reason for Stanley’s interrogation are not divulged, Pinter is suggestive enough in detail to invoke IRA involvement as a potential context, without excluding other contexts, such as the Gestapo, from which, according to Pinter himself, came the idea of the initial knock on Stanley’s door.
Similarly, A Slight Ache can be examined in terms of its colonial undercurrent, which is suggestive of a potential source of Edward’s character. He expresses that, “Africa’s always been my happy hunting ground” and his dialogue is composed of diction and allusions such as “schooner,” “territory,” and “Belgian Congo” which are indicative of a specific background. Edward’s association between humans and animals, continually referring to the Matchseller as an unpleasant smelling “bullock,” and ordering his wife to, “get back to your trough,” are reminiscent of Iago’s characterisation of Othello as “an old black ram.” This kind of discourse is similarly observed by Chinua Achebe in his criticism of Heart of Darkness, where, additionally, the African characters, like the Matchseller, are not endowed with human expressions, or even a language.
Although a lack of dialogue is indicative of a lack of voice, it is the very silence of the Matchseller that is so problematic to Edward. Edward’s language in particular is indicative of his particular identity, his parodic middle-class diction and terribly polite conversation with his wife Flora contribute to the semblance of civility which masks their tendencies to cruelty and violence. The initial discussion of the plays, of the various, torturous ways to kill the wasp are indicative of the violence beneath the civil façade to which they both aspire. The overwhelming silence of the Matchseller exemplifies Pinter’s claim that “one way of looking at speech is to say that it is a constant stratagem to cover nakedness.” It is therefore the Matchseller’s silence that forces Edward to relinquish his armour of language, and reveals him as weak. Once Edward is unable to maintain his cloak of language his nakedness is exposed and he unable to maintain either his dominance or his residence. Though it is Flora, who, witnessing Edward’s weakness, that rejects him from the house and replaces him with the Matchseller, it is the Matchseller’s silence that has defeated Edward’s façade of power and civility. The Matchseller himself functions as unidentified Other, the ambiguous, non-specific “they” of The Room, the unsubstantiated “Blacks” of The Caretaker. His particular identity in relation to Edward and Flora is irrelevant, they are suspicious and resistant to him since his an Other, and therefore a threat. Unlike the blind Negro of The Room, the Matchseller’s entry into Edward and Flora’s home is invited since Edward refuses to confront him outside of his domain, stating “we’ll invite him in here. In my study. Then we’ll…get to the bottom of it.” It is the security of the private home that serves to strengthen Edward’s sense of self-power, but also serves to weaken the Matchseller’s sense of self, since he becomes subject to someone else’s space. In this sense, private space is not simply a mark of individuality and personal security but also as a method of exclusion and hostile isolation.
In these early plays, exclusion and isolation are not limited to literal private spaces but extend beyond rooms and into the domain of a wider society with its own implied spaces and structures. A Night Out (1959) marks Pinter’s first excursion from the confines of rooms into a public space. The play charts the emergence of Albert from his mother’s home, a space dominated by her presence, to public, more ambiguous spaces where his identity becomes more ambiguous. The mother’s home is premised on particular spaces being attributed to specific people, notably “Grandma’s room,” and his father’s house, though these people are in fact dead and have been for some time. As such, Albert’s self-identity and independence become stifled by the presence of the dead who, according to his mother, are still living, “in this house.”
His mother’s insistence that he look “like a gentleman,” and lead a “clean life,” in order to ensure that he is respectable, serves to establish an identity for him in the mould of his father’s home. Once Albert leaves this space which forges his images as a “gentleman,” his character and identity are not protected by his mother’s wall, and he is consequently subject to characters defamations, including being unjustly accused of accosting a young girl at the party at his employer’s home. An ensuing fight leaves his clothing “all crumpled,” causing him to look like a “disgrace,” and, subsequently, act like a disgrace by violently threatening his mother. Since the party-goers and his mother identify him as a “disgrace,” he establishes himself as such and readily assumes this role since he has no secure space to assert his own identity. Albert is led to the room of a young girl, a prostitute masquerading as “respectable mother…with a child at boarding school”- the first room in which he feels dominant and able to re-establish himself outside of his mother’s home. Since Albert is disgraced he chooses to assert his identity and dominance by demeaning the girl, only then can he return home, cast off his suit and tie and no longer be subject to his mother’s dominance. It is the freedom granted by the girl’s room that allows Albert to establish himself outside of his mother’s haunted and oppressive walls.Continued on Next Page »
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