In a shocking turn of events, the Noble Prize for literature has been awarded to a writer someone other than the Nobel members has read! After decades of sometimes obscure and even questionable choices (along with many very deserved awards, of course), the prize has been given to one of the greats of 20th century literature, playwright Harold Pinter.
Michael Muskal LA Times October 13, 2005
Harold Pinter, whose name has become a synonym for a unique space in the universe of drama, was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature today. Regarded as one of the most important British dramatic voices in the latter half of the 20th Century, Pinter, 75, is known for his sparse and thin style as well as his etched characters whose crystal patter cuts through the mood like diamond drill bits. Pinter "in his plays uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression's closed rooms," the Swedish Academy said in announcing the surprise award.
Last year's winner was Austrian feminist Elfriede Jelinek. Her selection drew such ire that a member of the academy attacked his colleagues for the choice. Knut Ahnlund, 82, resigned Tuesday after he wrote that the choice of Jelinek caused "irreparable damage" to the award's reputation.
Timothy Williams New York Times
In awarding the $1.3 million prize, the Swedish Academy said Mr. Pinter "uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression's closed rooms." The citation added, "Pinter restored theater to its basic elements: an enclosed space and unpredictable dialogue, where people are at the mercy of each other and pretense crumbles."
Influenced by James Joyce and Samuel Beckett - who became a friend -- Mr. Pinter wrote plays, particularly those during the 1960's, that veer unexpectedly from comedy to examinations of fear and evil. In his early plays, menace lurked just beneath the comedic surface of things - a style that became known as the "comedy of menace."
Mr. Pinter was born in London in 1930 to working class Jewish parents and studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and the Central School for Speech and Drama. As a child, he grew up during the Blitz, and he and his family were forced to evacuate London for three years. That experience, he said later, informed his desire to work for peace.
As a teenager, he twice refused national military service, and was fined.
The irony here, of course, is that it was only millions of Americans and Brits going into military service that saved the world from Hitler and saved the last remnants of the Europe's Jewish population from concentration camps; camps that would not have existed if earlier military force had been used when Hitler had started his attacks on neighboring countries. And if other Brits and Americans did not serve, Pinter and his family would have been put to death in the concentration camps the Germans had planned for England.
There are, of course, no easy answers to the problems facing the world then - or now; but as brilliant as Pinter is at looking into human relationships like many artists, the complexities of the relationships among nations has never been of any interest to him; there was/is only black and white.