“No Man’s Land” by Harold Pinter

Excerpts:

“You’re a quiet one. It’s a great relief. Can you imagine two of us gabbling away like me? It would be intolerable.”

“Experience is a paltry thing. Everyone has it and will tell his tale of it. … The present is truly unscrupulous. I am a poet. I’m interested in where I am eternally present and active”.

“Tell me then about your wife. … How beautiful she was, how tender and how true. Tell me with what speed she swung in the air, with what velocity she came off the wicket, whether she was responsive to finger spin, whether you could bowl a shooter with her, or an offbreak with a legbreak action. In other words, did she google?”

“It is my duty to tell you you have failed to convince. … I begin to wonder whether a truly accurate, therefore essentially poetic definition means anything to you at all. I begin to wonder whether you do in fact truly remember her, whether you truly did love her.”

“While you were doing your exercises, she came to me. Her ardor was, in my experience, unparalleled. You were always preoccupied with your physical condition, weren’t you? Don’t blame you. Damn fine figure of a chap. Natural athlete. Medals, scrolls, you name inscribed in gold. Once a man has breasted the tape alone, he is breasting the tape forever. His golden moment can never be tarnished. Do you run still?”

“This is outrageous! Who are you ? What are you doing in my house?”

“I am sorry for you. Where is the moral ardour that sustained you once? Gone down the hatch. Right down the hatch. I do not understand, and I see it all about me continually, how the most sensitive and cultivated of man can so easily change, almost overnight, into the bully, the cutpurse, the brigand.”

“You might see faces of others, in shadow, or cheeks of others, turning, or jaws, or backs of necks, or eyes, dark under hats, which might remind you of others, whom once you knew, whom you thought long dead, but from whom you still receive a sidelong glance. … Who knows how they may quicken in their chains, in their glass jars. You think it’s cruel to quicken them, when they are fixed, imprisoned.  No Deeply deeply, they wish to respond to your touch, to your look, and when you smile, their joy is unbounded. And I say to you, tender the dead as you would yourself be tendered, now in what you would describe as your life.”

Links

“No Man’s Land” TV production with John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson

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