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Pinter Problem

Pinter Problem

Copyright Date: 1975
Pages: 316
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  • Book Info
    Pinter Problem
    Book Description:

    In spite of steady growth in popularity, Pinter's plays have continued to elude adequate critical appraisal. Considering the last decade's scholarship, Austin E. Quigley attributes the impasse in Pinter criticism to the failure of Pinter's readers to appreciate the diversity of ways in which language can transmit information. This explanation places recent commentaries in a new light and enables the author to take a fresh approach to the plays themselves.

    Originally published in 1975.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-7240-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    (pp. xvii-2)

    In recent years a number of books have appeared which attempt to deal with the work of playwright Harold Pinter. As is usual with a writer whose work is of recent date, these books have tended to be introductory in nature. Attention has been devoted to surveys of Pinter’s life, career, and plays with the aim of providing the kind of perspective that will open up Pinter’s work to a rather puzzled audience. In spite of the wealth of background information now available, the uncertainty that has characterized responses to Pinter’s work shows no sign of diminishing. An improved understanding...

    (pp. 3-31)

    As an opening statement to a study of Pinter it is difficult to think of anything more to the point than the recent remark by W. J. Free: “Harold Pinter’s plays still puzzle audiences and critics after almost a dozen years of acquaintance with his work. In spite of a growing body of criticism, there are perhaps more unanswered questions about Pinter than about any other major contemporary playwright.”¹ Nothing that has subsequently appeared in print has mounted a serious challenge to that statement. Esslin’s recent effort,The Peopled Wound,² is undermined by the very praise ofTime’s review: “The...

    (pp. 32-75)

    The major difficulty encountered by Brown, Nelson, Esslin, and others is to reconcile perceptive comments on Pinter’s work with general theoretical statements about the ways in which the things perceived are present in the language. It is this difficulty that has kept criticism of Pinter anchored firmly in the positions established by the early contributors to the field. Progress is unlikely to occur when accurate observations are required to interact with inaccurate generalizations. Instead of fruitful interplay between data and hypotheses, which is fundamental to the development of further data and to the refinement of hypotheses, there has been a...

    (pp. 76-112)

    Pinter’s first play,The Room, is also one of his most puzzling works.² Tension characterizes every relationship in the play though the sources of the tension are at best obliquely indicated. The conclusion focuses on the death of a blind Negro, who enters the play very late but is nonetheless central to the movement of the action portrayed. This late entry, with its consequent abridgement of information about the Negro, has inevitably led to a variety of inspired guesses about who he is and what he represents. As accuracy in this area is both essential and difficult we are confronted...

    (pp. 113-172)

    The stage set forThe Caretaker, like that forThe Room, is a shabby, all-purpose room, but there is an important contrast between the two settings: the objects surrounding Rose function clearly in a fixed pattern of life with Bert, but those surrounding Aston seem largely random. The stage is littered with things; boxes, vases, paint buckets, a stepladder, a lawn mower, a shopping trolley, a coal bucket, and a statue of Buddha are strewn around the room. Even apparently functional objects like the kitchen sink and the gas stove are reduced to random stature by their lack of proximity...

    (pp. 173-225)

    In focusingThe Caretakeron the problems of all three characters, Pinter continued the gradual elimination of his early distinction between two radically different kinds of character. The play’s extensive concern for Davies’ problems confirmed the essential similarity of the issues confronted by both the intruders and those intruded upon. As early asThe Birthday Party(1957) Pinter was toying with the vulnerabilities of such powerful intruders as Goldberg and McCann, and by the time he wroteThe Collection(1961) it was apparent that his characters’ conflicts were based more upon psychological intrusion than upon territorial intrusion. And, as The...

    (pp. 226-272)

    The conclusion of a Pinter play is a topic worthy of study in its own right. The combination of completion and continuity achieved in these conclusions is itself an important characteristic of the kind of drama he is writing. Something final occurs in the pattern of group activity, something that closes off certain possibilities and momentarily excludes awareness of acceptable alternatives. But the characters do not die; the finality is not that of death. On the contrary, the impact of the conclusions is derived in large part from the realization that, though the end of a way of life is...

    (pp. 273-278)

    In contrast to the overwhelmingly unfavorable response to Pinter’s first London presentation,The Birthday Party, many of the reviews of his latest stage play,Old Times, are equally overwhelming in their praise. In the thirteen years that have elapsed between the two plays, Pinter’s success has been such that it comes as no surprise to find a reviewer ofOld Timesremarking that “the most eagerly awaited event on the English-speaking stage is a new major work by Harold Pinter.”¹ Of the dramatists who came to the fore in what seemed a great resurgence of the English theater in the...

    (pp. 279-292)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 293-294)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 295-295)