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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: December 29, 2008 @ 4:31 pm

    Pinter and the making of an esque

    Fiona McCann

    You know you’ve made it as a literary genius when your name becomes an adjective: these days one’s writing can be Wildean (pithily amusing), Joycean (incomprehensible) or perhaps most desirably, Pinteresque, which brings with it inaction, humour, misogyny and a sweet hint of menace. The playwright who died on Christmas Eve has been eulogised at length, but in gratitude for his ensuring my own surname appears in, if not on, a literary classic, I’d like to offer my own salute. 

    From The Birthday Party . . .

    GOLDBERG: Sit back, McCann. Relax. What’s the matter with you? I bring you down for a few days to the seaside. Take a holiday. Do yourself a favor. Learn to relax, McCann, or you’ll never get anywhere.

    MCCANN. Ah sure, I do try, Nat.

    GOLDBERG. [sitting at the table] The secret is breathing. Take my tip. It’s a well-known fact. Breathe in, breathe out, take a chance, let yourself go, what can you lose?  . . .

    . . .

     MCCANN. What about this, Nat? Isn’t it about time someone came in?

    GOLDBERG. McCann, what are you so nervous about? Pull yourself together. Everywhere you go these days it’s like a funeral.

    MCCANN. That’s true.

    GOLDBERG. True? Of course it’s true. It’s more than true. It’s a fact.

    MCCANN. You may be right.

    • Declan Foley says:

      ANY ONE and I mean any one who describes the works of James Joyce as incomprehensible needs to read his work more than once, and read up about the great man. His work and that of W B Yeats is in fact more important today than when was first published.

    • Medbh says:

      Ugh.
      Pinter was a hateful turd. It pisses me off that folks like to say he carried on Beckett’s tradition when it’s just not true. Beckett hated bullies and Pinter’s plays are saturated with them. How is it that “The Homecoming” still gets staged in the 21st century?

    • Sinéad says:

      Misogyny indeed and it doesn’t get more so than The Homecoming, a fascinating, well-written but horrible play if ever there was one.

    • Fiona says:

      Declan: Woops. I was being facetious. And am not even sure comprehension is the point, though I take yours.

      Medbh: I agree the comparison is off in many ways. I don’t know The Homecoming and am now loathe to read it, given what both you and Sinead have pointed out, but will do so.

      Sinead: See above but also, I’ve finished Gilead and immediately got a copy of Housekeeping. Gilead was simply wonderful in every way, just as you’d said it would be. It’s been a long time since reading a novel has made me feel like I’m a better person for it, but with Gilead I can say this. Thanks for making me perservere!

    • Betterworld Now says:

      “Pinteresque”, for me, is telling the kind of truth that disembowels those who base their understanding of life on received wisdom but have the intellect to know better. I cite these examples from his Nobel Prize lecture: “Art, Truth & Politics”:

      “The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless … The United States supported and in many cases engendered every right-wing military dictatorship in the world after the end of the Second World War.”

      And, referring to the impending invasion of Iraq

      “The United States is a monster out of control … Unless we challenge it with absolute determination, American barbarism will destroy the world. The country is run by a bunch of criminal lunatics, with Blair as their hired Christian thug.”

      “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. If such a determination is not embodied in our political vision we have no hope of restoring what is so nearly lost to us – the dignity of man.”

      Worth reading all of it, here:
      http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/2005/pinter-lecture-e.html


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