Harold Pinter: Upon Us All

Some days ago, I received from my friend Tim Reeves a copy of the speech delivered by Harold Pinter on the occasion of his recent receipt of the Nobel Literature Prize. Pinter is a famous british playwriter, born in London of jewish descent, and has long been a human rights activist. His biography and a bit of his speech…

…As a citizen I must ask: What is true? What is false? Truth in drama is forever elusive. You never quite find it but the search for it is compulsive. The search is clearly what drives the endeavour. The search is your task. More often than not you stumble upon the truth in the dark, colliding with it or just glimpsing an image or a shape which seems to correspond to the truth, often without realising that you have done so…

…I have often been asked how my plays come about. I cannot say… Most of the plays are engendered by a line, a word or an image. The given word is often shortly followed by the image… The first line of The Homecoming is ‘What have you done with the scissors?’ The first line of Old Times is ‘Dark.’ In each case I had no further information…

…A writer’s life is a highly vulnerable, almost naked activity. We don’t have to weep about that. The writer makes his choice and is stuck with it. But it is true to say that you are open to all the winds, some of them icy indeed. You are out on your own, out on a limb. You find no shelter, no protection – unless you lie – in which case of course you have constructed your own protection and, it could be argued, become a politician…

…I believe that despite the enormous odds which exist, unflinching, unswerving, fierce intellectual determination, as citizens, to define the real truth of our lives and our societies is a crucial obligation which devolves upon us all. It is in fact mandatory…

What have you done? Dark. Truth. Obligation. No further information. 2006. Is Upon Us…

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