Friday, December 26, 2008


Playwright Harold Pinter died this Christmas Eve. He was 78, and succumbed, after a long battle, to cancer of the esophagus. Maybe, as he once said, "I think it's enough for me. I've found other forms now."

He was born and raised in Great Britain, the son of working class Eastern European Jews. Poet, author of 29 stage plays, such as "The Birthday Party," and screenwriter of "Betrayal," and "The French Lieutenant's Wife," Pinter was also an accomplished actor. His last appearance, back in 2006, was in a British production of "Krapp's Last Tape" by his good friend Samuel Beckett.

A fighter for social justice, Pinter served as vice president of International PEN where he was vigilant about speaking out against torture of imprisoned writers, and in defense of freedom of expression. "Being thrown out of the U.S. embassy in Ankara with Arthur Miller, a voluntary exile, was one of the proudest moments of my life," he once said.

The 2005 Nobel Prize Laureate for Literature was an equally ardent opposer of the 1991 Gulf War, the 2001 U.S. war in Afghanistan, who predicted the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 who called the American president a "bloodthirsty wild animal" condemning both Bush and Tony Blair as "war criminals." We're glad he lived to see the demise of the Bush era.

In the end, there isn't a hell of a lot more to say except thanks for stopping by, Harold Pinter, and, in the words of Samuel Beckett, for working "to find a form that accommodates the mess" as "that is the task of the artist now."