In announcing the 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature, Horace Engdahl, chairman of the Swedish Academy, said that British playwright Harold Pinter was an artist “who in his plays uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression’s closed rooms.”

Pinter, 75, has written 29 plays, including “The Birthday Party,” “The Caretaker,” “The Homecoming,” and “Betrayal”; 21 screenplays, including “The Servant,” “The Go-Between” and “The French Lieutenant’s Woman”; and directed 27 theatre productions.

Pinter’s interest in politics is a very public one and he has been outspoken against the bombing of Afghanistan and the war on Iraq. When the award was announced, he told reporters: “I am both deeply engaged in art and deeply engaged in politics and sometimes those two meet and sometimes they don’t. It’s all going to be very interesting.”

In a speech in March, Pinter said, “We have brought torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts of random murder, misery and degradation to the Iraqi people and call it ‘bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East.’”

Last year, Pinter received the Wilfred Owen award, named after the great antiwar poet of the first World War, given on the 90th anniversary of the out break of that war, in which Owen was killed at the age of 25. The award was given for Pinter’s collection of work criticizing the war in Iraq.

Two years earlier, Pinter had been diagnosed with cancer but still participated in public readings in opposition to the war.

During his youth in London, Pinter experienced anti-Semitism, which he said had been important in his decision to become a dramatist. He was fined for being a conscientious objector in 1949 after refusing to do national service.

Barbara Russum contributed to this story.

The Bombs

There are no more words to be said
All we have left are the bombs
Which burst out of our head
All that is left are the bombs
Which suck out the last of our blood
All we have left are the bombs
Which polish the skulls of the dead
— Harold Pinter

For more information: www.haroldpinter.org

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