British playwright Harold Pinter, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, died on Wednesday Dec. 24 2008 at the age of 78 after a long battle with esophageal cancer. In his Nobel lecture Art, Truth and Politics, Pinter decried US foreign policy and the Iraq War. Because of illness, he did not give the lecture in person in Stockholm, but videotaped it in a studio in the UK. He delivered his scathing critique with force of conviction and punctuated pauses for reflection. One would have forgotten that he was seriously ill if not for the fact that he was sitting in a wheelchair with his legs covered by a blanket.
“You don’t believe in a vacuum as a writer. I’ve read a great deal in my life. One of the people I certainly read way back about fifty years ago was Beckett, and he left a great impression on me. I was writing at the time myself. But nevertheless I wouldn’t dream of denying that people like Beckett, Kafka, Joyce, Dostoyevsky left great imprints on one’s very being. … Certainly the power of language, but also vision, a certain vision of life on earth, which I thought in all those cases I just mentioned was singular and very very personal. And I think I probably got some kind of vision myself, but I couldn’t define it.”
“Of course I have regrets. …Not so much to do with what I did, but what I … My first family was a very, finally a very unhappy experience, which was very very sad. My first wife died very young really, in her fifties. …And my son and I are estranged, and haven’t spoken for about thirteen years. So both those things are sad. I regret that a) they happened the way they did and b) the way things are the way they are, in those respects. I’m talking rather of my son of course. But at the same time I’ve been very happily married to put it mildly with Lady Antonia Fraser for thirty one years, and that’s meant everything to me.”