Iconic Playwright Harold Pinter on Truth in Drama (and in Life)
By Maria Popova
In 2005, the influential English playwright and screenwriter Harold Pinter (October 10, 1930–December 24, 2008) won the Nobel Prize for Literature. His acceptance speech, excellent in its entirety, contains this brilliant meditation on truth in drama — which, if we embrace the life-imitates-art-imitates-life paradigm, is also a brilliant meditation on truth (“truth”) in life.
Truth in drama is forever elusive. You never quite find it but the search for it is compulsive. The search is clearly what drives the endeavour. The search is your task. More often than not you stumble upon the truth in the dark, colliding with it or just glimpsing an image or a shape which seems to correspond to the truth, often without realising that you have done so. But the real truth is that there never is any such thing as one truth to be found in dramatic art. There are many. These truths challenge each other, recoil from each other, reflect each other, ignore each other, tease each other, are blind to each other. Sometimes you feel you have the truth of a moment in your hand, then it slips through your fingers and is lost.” ~ Harold Pinter
For more on Pinter’s character and spirit, see Must You Go?: My Life with Harold Pinter, the fantastic memoir by renowned biographer Antonia Fraser, who also happened to be Pinter’s partner.
Published December 28, 2011