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The Life & Work of Harold Pinter

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The Life & Work of Harold Pinter

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    Available in PDF Format | The Life & Work of Harold Pinter.pdf | English
    Michael Billington(Author)
Harold Pinter is our foremost living dramatist; and in this ground-breaking book - the first authorized biographical study - Michael Billington examines Pinter's work in the context of his life. Pinter's plays, including such acknowledged masterpieces as The Caretaker and The Homecoming, are subjected to close textual scrutiny and are seen to spring from a mixture of experience, memory and the unfettered poetic imagination. Billington's book also demolishes the myth that Pinter's political commitment is either belated or aesthetically detrimental; the dramatist is seen from the outset as a vehement opponent of authoritarian structures.

"A smart, absorbing blend of criticism and biography that demythologizes the writings of Britain's premier postwar dramatist . . . Billington combines intelligence with accessibility to create a fine theater book for the general reader.""--Kirkus Reviews" "The book's most fascinating sections explore the sources, literary and biographical, of Pinter's evocative, cryptic plays.""--Booklist" "Enthralling. Calmly, judiciously written, it takes Pinter from his Hackney childhood and Jewish upbringing to his current eminence and political activity; it handles his acting, writing and directing; it treats his plays, screenwriting, poetry and fiction; and discusses many of his friendships and both of his marriages . . . Billington's book is an open-sesame into Pintor's work . . . To the extent that Billington provides answers about Pinter's life and art, his is a valuable book. And absorbing: I found it virtually unputdownable.""--Financial Times" "Through his work as a playwright and director, Pinter has raised out theatre to the highest point that it has achieved since Edwardian times . . . No reader of this book will doubt, by the end of it, that its subject is a man of the highest artistic stature.""--Sunday Telegraph" "An outstandingly good book.""--Independent " --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Book details

  • PDF | 328 pages
  • Michael Billington(Author)
  • Faber & Faber; 1st edition (3 Jan. 1997)
  • English
  • 5
  • Biography

Review Text

  • By P. S. Briggs on 30 January 2008

    Michael Billington clearly idolises Harold Pinter - and at the end of his marvellous book so did I. To the view that Pinter is the finest writer in the English language of the post-war era I would already have subscribed - but having read this remarkable analysis of his life as well as his works I am now in no doubt that his importance goes beyond even that. For Pinter has a consistency and integrity which combined with his scintillating intelligence, is very rare. From the impoverished eighteen-year-old refusing National Service to the grand old man of the Arts with a Nobel Prize he has not wavered. He believes in the truth at all times, is a stalwart fighter against hypocrisy and lies and has never deviated from the confidence always to say what he believes to be right. Pinter's Art promotes his principles often in so subtle a way that you cannot be offended - but his political views are so muscular and uncompromising that they may give offence - and we are all the better for that!

  • By Ms. S. Benjamin on 23 June 2011

    Absolutely love this book! Written with careful attention and scrupulous research it is also a great read, carrying the reader along and never dragging. I really appreciated the level of detail and the engaging style - it;s a long book but never dry. I never felt like putting it down. I really enjoy Billington's insights into Pinter's works, particularly things like films and TV productions which I was born too late to see. He creates a real affinity between the reader and subject early on by bringing to life Pinter's childhood/youth. Definitely one to read as an introduction to Pinter's works.

  • By John Aspinall on 15 August 2015

    Pinter was certainly worthy of an official biography, but having it written by your biggest fan is always going to be a mistake. The only thing missing is a declaration of love from Billington to Pinter. The analysis of many of Pinter's play and screenplays is rather good, and the book is worth it for that reason, but Billington's fawning - and his over-use of the word 'art' - makes things just a little too sugary, but it's just bearable.What is disgraceful about this biography is the character assassination done on the late Vivien Merchant. Billington chooses to suggest to us that Pinter's adultery in the 1960s with Joan Bakewell, and his adultery with Antonia Fraser in the 1970s, were due to vague marital problems, and that those problems had their root in Merchant's resentment of her husband's success after 'The Caretaker' was written. While Merchant and Pinter were both actors, she was the more famous. The play changed the dynamic and she didn't like it, Billington tells us.Pinter had adulterous affairs for years and years, and eventually left his wife for Fraser. When this happened, Merchant spoke to the press and the story ran for a while. This is Billington on that very topic:"What kept the story alive were Vivien's indiscretions and her refusal to accept the role of the mutely suffering wife. Everyone else, to their credit, maintained a stoical silence."Billington doesn't seen to care that wrong-doers usually keep their mouths shut; in addition, might Pinter's indiscretions have had some causal relationship to the story and the scandal? In complaining that talking to the press was not to her credit, Billington is in-denial of the nature of the female.Billington's attitude to Vivien Merchant gets worse. Consider this on the occassion of Pinter's second wedding:"The scene was set. The guests were invited. A marquee was erected on the lawn of the house in Campden Hill Square where Pinter and Antonia had lived for three years. But at the very last moment Vivien refused to sign the relevant divorce papers so the marriage took place two weeks after the reception: a small vindictive triumph for the disgruntled Vivien.While wrestling with the agonies of divorce, Pinter had also been struggling with the seemingly intractable problem of turning John Fowles's 'The French Lieutenant's Woman....."Notice the cold, indifferent change of subject to Pinter's "agonies."After reading that, I checked to see if Billington was married, so clueless does he seem to be about the nature of the female human. He seems to either not know or not care that a lady, when her husband leaves her for another woman, can sometimes feel a pang of displeasure and a sharp need to deal with that sensation. And why does he not assume Vivien Merchant's behaviour might have been connected to her own agonies? After her divorce, it took Vivien Merchant two years to drink herself to death.Notice also, the little (and non-amusing) allusions to playwriting and acting...."refused to accept the role"....."the scene was set." Rather smug and annoying, I think.Let me be clear: I don't care if everything was Merchant's fault. He should not have written about her this way.

  • By Keith Douglas Harle on 9 February 2013

    An extremely, insightful, sensitive and personable view of a masterful playwright, poet and political activist. Well worth every penny I paid?

  • By C. J. T. on 26 January 2014

    It's obvious that the author is a big Pinter fan, but that's okay because so am I.There is insight aplenty here, together with analytical passages of great and valuable depth.The playwright as a man also comes across well; Pinter was not a man to suffer fools gladly, if at all.But then again, who is?

  • By Tony Hyland on 11 December 2015

    A wonderfully intelligent reading of one of the great theatrical careers accompanied by such insightful interpretations of some of the greatest and deepest plays in western literature

  • By rose on 24 August 2011

    absolutly fantastic, i learn so much about Pinter the writer but also about he's writing strategie, his technical writing. Why and how he chose a certain subject. About he's inpiration and his texts, subtext, al the layers.. a very good book, if you like Pinters plays you need to read this book.

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