Harold Pinter (1930-2008)
One of the most innovative among contemporary playwrights, famous above all for his enigmatic and deceptive "comedies of menace" and for his paradoxical use of words which, instead of favoring communication, lay bare men's silence and solitude. In 2005 he received the Nobel Prize for literature because "in his plays, he uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression's closed rooms.
Harold Pinter was born in London in 1930. His father was a Jewish tailor and the family, who were not well off, lived in the East End, a working-class district of London, where hardship and poverty were part of normal way of life.
The years of his childhood were spent amid the misery of the great economic depression of the 1930s, followed by the violence and danger of the Second World War , when the East End suffered severe damage from enemy bombing raids.
Pinter won a scholarship to attend RADA ( the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art), but left after two terms. At the age of 18 he was called up for compulsory military service, but resisted enlistment on the grounds that he was a conscientious objector: he was tried twice and eventually fined. He then devoted himself to writing, producing poetry and plays.
He finally returned to acting (in 1954 he assumed the stage name of David Baron), and worked for a number of years in various provincial theaters. His first play was the one-act piece The Room (1957), but his work was neglected until 1960, when the production of The Caretaker made his reputation. Since then he produced a number of significant plays (some of which have also been turned into films), in which he denounces injustice and political oppression. He received numerous awards, but he turned down a knighthood from Prince Minister John Major, since it came from a Conservative Government.
He won many honors, the most important of which was the 2005 Nobel Prize in Literature . In the political field, he campaigned against NATO activity in Kosovo. Fiercely anti-Bush and ant-Blair, he harshly criticized the US-led war in Iraq, which he denounced in a volume of poetry, War (2003). In early 2005, in a radio interview, he declared that, after writing 29 plays and 25 scripts, he was retiring as a dramatist in favour of political activism and writing poetry. In 2007 he received the "Lègion d'Honneur", France's highest civil honor. Pinter died on Christmas Eve 2008.