Pinter wins Nobel for Literature

The 75-year-old Harold Pinter is one of Britain's best-known playwrights.

india Updated: Oct 13, 2005 17:45 IST

British playwright Harold Pinter, whose sparse style and use of silences has given rise to the adjective "Pinteresque", was the surprise winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2005 on Thursday.

The 75-year-old Londoner, son of a Jewish dressmaker, is one of Britain's best-known writers for works such as The Birthday Party and The Caretaker. But critics said he was an unexpected pick for the 10 million crown ($1.28 million) prize.

Pinter "uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression's closed rooms", said the Swedish Academy. Its head Horace Engdahl called him "the towering figure" in English drama in the second half of the 20th century.

An accomplished actor and director, Pinter is also known for screenplays for film and television, such as the 1981 movie The French Lieutenant's Woman, based on John Fowles' novel.

An outspoken voice on politics and human rights, Pinter was described by one biographer as "a permanent public nuisance, a questioner of accepted truths, both in life and art."

"Harold Pinter has positions about the western world that are extremely pronounced. In 2003 he was very openly opposed to the war in Iraq," French literary critic Raphaelle Rerolle of Le Monde newspaper said.

"His plays have an indirect political content as well," said Rerolle, who believes the choice of Nobel laureates is becoming "more radical". He cited Italian playwright Dario Fo, while last year's winner Elfriede Jelinek of Austria is a hardline leftwinger and feminist.

Pinter's agent Judy Daishsaid it was "the most wonderful news. It is a complete surprise and I feel it is richly deserved. I was overjoyed for him."

First Published: Oct 13, 2005 17:03 IST