Harold Pinter was born in Hackney, a proletarian neighbourhood in London's East End, on 10 October 1930. He is the only son of a lower-middle class family of Portuguese-Jewish ancestry. Before gaining success as a playwright, Harold Pinter tried to establish an acting career under the stage name David Baron, playing in small provincial repertory companies. He still directs plays and acts occasionally, sometimes in his own plays.
Harold Pinter was Associate Director of the National Theatre between 1973 and 1983. Among the many prizes and awards he received are Germany's Shakespeare Prize (Hamburg 1970), the Austrian State Prize for European Literature (1973), the Pirandello Prize (1980), the Donatello Prize (1982), and the Elmer Holmes Bobst Award (1984). Harold Pinter also received Honorary Doctoral Degrees in Literature from Reading (1970), Birmingham (1971), Glasgow (1974), East Anglia (1974), Stirling (1979), Brown (1982), Hull (1986).
Since the 1980's, Pinter has surprised many and angered some by his transformation into a political crusader. Harold Pinter and his wife Lady Antonia Frazer preside over a left-wing salon, called the June 20 Group. Among its members are Salman Rushdie, Margaret Drabble, John Mortimer, lan McEwan, Anna Ford and Anthony Howard. But the growth of his political consciousness can be traced further back. In 1948, he protested against emerging cold war politics by becoming a conscientious objector. Since the 1970's, he has publicly criticised American interference in the politics of developing countries. Harold Pinter chairs the Arts for Nicaragua Fund and is an active member of, among others, CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament), Amnesty International, Charter 88, and International PEN. With Arthur Miller, he investigated the plight of political prisoners in Turkey in 1985. He also organised benefit nights to help support Vaclav Havel's family during the latter's captivity and agitated for the release of Vladimir Bukovsky. He claims to combat 'totalitarianism' and 'hypocrisy' either from the Left or the Right.
Harold Pinter's political activity has been accompanied by a diminished creative output. Apart from the collected screenplays, the last ten years saw the staging and/or publication of only a number of smaller plays and sketches, all of which reflect his acute and still growing political awareness. So far, they have been received with polite interest and little critical enthusiasm.
The Room (1957)
The birthday party (1958)
A Slight Ache (1959)
The Caretaker (1 960)
A Night Out (1960)
The Dwarfs (1960)
Night School (1960)
The Dumb Waiter (1960)
The Collection (1961)
The Servant (1962)
The Lover (1963)
The homecoming (1965)
The Tea Party (1 965)
The Basement (1967)
The Go-Between (1969)
Old Times (197 1)
No Man's Land(1975)
The Proust Screenplay (1978)
Family Voices (1980)
The hothouse (1980)
The screenplay of the French Lieutenant's woman (1981)
Other places (1982)
One for the road (1984)
Turtle diary (1985)
Mountain language (1988)
The heat of the day (1989)
The comfort of strangers and other screenplays (1990).
The new world order (1991)
In a world where nothing is certain, communication becomes a hazardous experience; yet, it would be inaccurate to say that Pinter's plays demonstrate the impossibility of communication. As Alrene Sykes points out in her study of 'Failure of Communication' in The Caretaker (1 960), Pinter often draws attention to the fact that the haphazard way in which much dialogue proceeds does not always prevent some kind of mutual understanding. In The Caretaker, Aston, a mental cripple not devoid of sympathy for fellow suffers, has picked up a bum from the street called Davies and has offered him the share of his room until he gets himself 'sorted out'. From the very beginning, Davies who has little to lose and much to gain, shifts uncertainly between an attitude of greedy acquisitiveness and servile humility. While trying to adapt to the new situation, Davies is evasive and tries to remain on safe ground by proffering what he assumes are universally acknowledged truths about blacks and monks.
ASTON. You've got to have a good pair of shoes.
DAYIES. Shoes? It's life and death to me. I had to go all the way to Luton in these.
ASTON. What happened when you got there, then?
DAVIES. 1 used to know a bootmaker in Acton. He was a good mate to me.
You know what that bastard monk said to me?
How many more Blacks you got around here then?
DAVIES. You got any more Blacks around here?
ASTON. (holding out the shoes). See if these are any good.
DAVIES. You know what that bastard monk said to me? (He looks over to
the shoes.) 1 think those'd be a bit small.
Despite its haphazard quality, this conversation in the end returns to the problem of finding Davies 'a good pair of shoes.' But whereas shoes are its apparent topic, the conversation is driven by a different motivation. Davies is tentatively feeling his way in this relationship with a man whose friendliness and generosity he instinctively distrusts. He tries to build a common ground for understanding and is frustrated either by Aston's silence or by his requests for detailed, personal information. In the absence of any more satisfying topic, both men keep relating to each other through their ostensible concern about the shoes - a topic which, therefore, assumes a disproportionate importance.
'We have heard many times that tired, grimy phrase: ,Failure of communication"', Pinter says in 'Writing for the Theatre', 'I believe the contrary', he continues; 'I think that we communicate only too well, in our silence, in what is unsaid...' (CW 1,xiii). Pinter does not refuse to acknowledge that dialogue is an exchange of information; he rather questions our assumption that we have access to the precise content of that information. Meaning is obviously not always found in the elementary components of the dialogue, i.e. in the words. Meaning cannot be extracted from language like a pearl from an oyster. It is inextricably linked with the living flesh of communication.
Regarded as one of Pinter’s finest pieces of post-modernist work, “The Caretaker” was written in the early 1960’s and includes a combination of several themes. These may include Pinter’s beliefs that human relationships are based upon a consistent battle for power, the immense cruelty of the time and a person’s need for an identity.
An old man, Davies, was working in a bar one night but he got the bullet and a bloke, Aston, saved him from a punch up.
Aston brings Davies to his house, takes care of him with all he needs and offers him the job of ‘caretaker’. A little while later he has been offered the same job by Mick, Aston’s brother, who is the real owner of the building. When Davies wants to play Mick and Aston off against one another, they long to each other and Davies is put at the door.
The play centres around just three characters; Mick, a man in his late twenties; Aston, Mick’s slightly older brother and Mac Davies, an old tramp whom Aston invites into his home.
The action takes place over a fortnight in a single room, and charts both the often unstable relationships between the characters as they fight for control of one another, and the harrowing personal history of Aston, a man who has endured some kind of electro-shock treatment to ‘cure’ him.
“The caretaker, by Harold Pinter was first toured by One 4 All Theatre Company in the Autumn of 1996. It was well received by county audiences and critics alike.
I didn’t like it that much because I had to get used to the use of language. Despite the book wasn’t very fat, it wasn’t very easy to follow the story and not very pleasant because of the difficult use of language
Ancestry: afkomst, voorgeslacht
Preside over: de leiding hebben (van)
Emerging: verschijnen, bovenkomen, blijken
Plight: (benarde) toestand
Latter: de laatstgenoemde
Agitate: actie voeren voor
Staging: opvoeren, produceren, regisseren, organiseren
Inaccurate: onnauwkeurig, foutief
Acquisitiveness: hebzuchtig, leergierig
Proffering: to proffer: aanbieden
Acknowledge: erkennen, ontvangst bevestigen, beantwoorden
Tentative: tentatief, voorlopig, aarzelend, weifelachtig
Disproportionate: onevenredig, niet in verhouding tot
Assumption: vermoeden, overname, gespeelde rol
Inextricable: onontkoombaar, onontwarbaar, onlosmakelijk
Andere boeken van deze auteur:
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