Harold Pinter 1930-2008

The news that British playwright Harold Pinter has died on Christmas Eve brought to mind one of my favorite Dalrymple essays: “Reticence or Insincerity, Rattigan or Pinter” from the November 2000 issue of The New Criterion. As the title implies, Dalrymple associated Pinter with insincerity, and in speeches like this one he used Pinter as an example of the modern triumph of sentimentality over inconvenient truth (although he conceded that Pinter was “a very talented man with a great poetic gift”).

Perhaps we shouldn’t speak ill of the recently departed, but Pinter was celebrated not only as the clever entertainer he undoubtedly was but also as an important, liberal public intellectual (now a de facto requirement of all Nobel laureates in literature), and we will surely have to bear more hosannahs in his name in the coming days. As such, is it really bad form to take this opportunity to remind people of his rather shameless dishonesty?

Reticence or Insincerity, Rattigan or Pinter
The New Criterion; November 2000

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3 thoughts on “Harold Pinter 1930-2008

  1. Buce

    “Perhaps we shouldn’t speak ill of the recently departed…”

    You know, there is something to be ssid for that view. It may be that every word you say about Pinter is true, but it still possible that it could be mistaken for a kind of arrogance and complacency with which you would not wish to be associated. Coulda kept a few days, I suspect.

  2. Steve

    I think you’re right, Buce. I’ve been regretting the post all day. I should have bitten my tongue. Thanks for your thoughts.


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