Pinter on Pinter

“I have often been asked how my plays come about. I cannot say. Nor can I ever sum up my plays, except to say that this is what happened. That is what they said. That is what they did.

“Most of the plays are engendered by a line, a word or an image. The given word is often shortly followed by the image. I shall give two examples of two lines which came right out of the blue into my head, followed by an image, followed by me.

“The plays are The Homecoming and Old Times. 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…”

Those are the words with which playwright Harold Pinter (above) begins his speech accepting the Nobel prize for literature this year.

Forbidden by doctors from going to Stockholm to receive the 10 million crown ($1.2 million) literature prize, 75-year-old Pinter, who has been battling cancer for years, sent a video recording showing him in a wheelchair with his legs under a red blanket, reports Reuters.

His frailty and hoarse voice added to the drama of a speech peppered with the potent silences of his plays like The Birthday Party and The Caretaker, which gave rise to the term “Pinteresque”, it adds.

It turns into a savage attack on the US, and I don’t like that at all, but the early parts are interesting where he talks about his writings. Anyone interested can read the complete text on the Guardian web site.

My favourite speech by a Nobel literature prize winner was delivered by VS Naipaul in Stockholm on Dec 7, 2001. In his speech, titled Two Worlds, he spoke about growing up in Trinidad, his Indian ancestry, and his moving to Britain and his writer’s life. It will be appreciated by anyone interested in writers or the colonial influence.

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