Nobel-winning playwright Harold Pinter dead at 78

Thu Dec 25, 2008 12:35pm EST
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By Matt Falloon

LONDON (Reuters) - Harold Pinter, the British playwright and Nobel laureate famous for his brooding portrayals of domestic life and barbed politics, has died aged 78.

His plays, including "The Caretaker" and "The Homecoming," were regarded as among the finest of the last half century and enjoyed a recent renaissance as modern audiences tapped into his dark studies of the menace and chaos within everyday life.

Pinter, who won the Nobel prize for literature in 2005, was a vocal opponent of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, likening U.S. President George W. Bush's administration to the Nazis and calling ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair a "mass murderer."

Pinter died on Wednesday after a long battle with cancer, according to media reports. His second wife, Lady Antonia Fraser, told the Guardian newspaper he had been "a great."

"It was a privilege to live with him for over 33 years. He will never be forgotten," she said.

Pinter's work influenced a generation of British dramatists, defined the "kitchen sink" drama and introduced a new word to the English language. "Pinteresque" describes painfully taut silences peppered with threats or half-stated meanings.

Critics dubbed Pinter's chilling masterpieces "the theater of insecurity." The son of a working-class Jewish tailor gave little help to audiences struggling to unravel his plays.

"There are no hard distinctions between what is real and unreal," he said.   Continued...

<p>A file photo shows British playwright Harold Pinter talking to journalists outside his home after he won the Nobel prize for literature in London October 13, 2005. Harold Pinter has died in London according to media reports. REUTERS/Kieran Doherty</p>