BBC-News page last updated at 22:11 GMT, Thursday, 25 December 2008


    Nobel Prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter, who had cancer, died on Christmas Eve aged 78.

    He wrote more than 30 plays including The Caretaker and The Birthday Party. His film scripts include The French Lieutenant's Woman. His style was so distinctive, "Pinteresque" entered the Oxford English Dictionary. His wife, Lady Antonia Fraser, said: "He was a great, and it was a privilege to live with him for over 33 years."

    He had been due to pick up an honorary degree earlier this month from the Central School of Speech and Drama in London but was forced to withdraw due to illness.




    BBC Creative Director Alan Yentob told the BBC: "He was a unique figure in British theatre. He has dominated the theatre scene since the 1950s."

    Michael Billington, Pinter's friend and biographer, said he was "devastated and saddened" by the news. He told the BBC: "Harold had been ill for a very long time, but he had a titanic will and one imagined he would go on fighting. "He was a fighter in the field of politics, he fought strenuously against American and British foreign policy, but also in his work you see this, there is a combative spirit in his work. "He was a generous and loyal man and very attached to the people whom he sincerely liked."


    Also an actor, poet, screenwriter and director, Pinter was known for his left-wing political views and was an outspoken critic of US and UK foreign policy. Veteran politician Tony Benn said Pinter was a great figure on the political scene. "His death will leave a huge gap that will be felt by the whole political spectrum," he said.


    Pinter won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005 and the citation said "in his plays he uncovers the precipice in everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression's closed rooms". He was awarded a CBE in 1966, later turned down a knighthood and became a Companion of Honour, an exclusive award in the gift of the Sovereign, in 2002. “So sad. The last of the 20th century's great Brits has left us. Will anybody ever pierce our hearts and minds with the vigour of Pinter's ever again? I doubt it.” (Michael, Earlston, UK)


    Pinter was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus in 2002 and following treatment, announced that he was on the road to recovery. Three years later, he announced that he had given up writing for the theatre in order to concentrate on political work.

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    1911: blind for almost three years years ; close to the Bloomsbury Circle from 1914 to 1920. Then became closer to D. H. Lawrence. Moved to (and worked for) Hollywood from 1937, settled in Taos (New Mexico, 1938) and became a Vedantist. In the ‘50s,he was a pioneer of self-directed psychedelic drug use (>The Doors of Perception). After 1960, he tried to overcome cancer, and wrote Island, a Utopia. He died on the same day as C.S. Lewis and J.F. Kennedy.

    - His famous WORKS :

    - Point Counter Point (1928)

    - Brave New World (1932)

    - The Devils of Loudun (1953), made into a film by Ken Russell.

    - The Politics of Ecology (1962)


    The main themes in Huxley’s works are not specifically literary; initially a pacifist, "he began as an enfant terrible and ended a sage" (Robert E. Kuehn). All his life he was prone to satire, shocking people to make them think. There is a constant attention to the (alarming) social changes in the world, and particularly the way science is considered, and used. Generally man’s failure is due to his inability to recognize the purpose of the human spirit and his senseless search for immortality. He was the first to coin the term « psychedelic », meaning "mind revealing" or "mind opening". For he strongly criticized religions, but eventually turned to mysticism.

    His plotlines often include an external observer (the « fish-out-of-water theme »); but he still remains as a master of utopia. His language is characterized both by irony and immense cultural references.


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