October 14, 2005

Peace Activist Wins Nobel Prize in Literature

In his politics a proponent of peace, and in his art a master of silence, Harold Pinter has received his just reward from the Swedish Academy with their announcement of the Nobel Prize in literature. It was Pinter's adaptation of "The French Lieutenant's Woman" in 1981 that helped launch the careers of Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons. Pinter also began his career as an actor, and in the 50 years since has become one of the world's most widely respected playwrights, winning accolades from Tom Stoppard and Vaclav Havel. The occassion was true to form, by his own account: "I was called 20 minutes before the official announcement. The chair of the Nobel committee phoned and said, 'You have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature'. I remained silent, and then said, 'I'm speechless.'"

In a report from ABC news, Nobel permanent secretary Horace Engdahl added to the academy's explanation for Pinter's win, saying the playwright "restored theatre to its basic elements - an enclosed space and unpredictable dialogue, where people are at the mercy of each other and pretence crumbles". His style even saw the word 'Pinteresque' added to the artistic lexicon, meaning "a work of drama full of atmospheric silences peppered with half-stated insights".

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