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The New York Times – φωτογραφίες Χάρολντ Πίντερ

Horst Tappe/Lebrecht

Harold Pinter, the British playwright whose gifts for finding the ominous in the everyday and the noise within silence made him the most influential and imitated dramatist of his generation, died on Dec. 24, 2008. He was 78 and lived in London. Photo: Horst Tappe/Lebrecht

Steve Forrest for The New York Times

Mr. Pinter in his writing studio in West London in 2007. Mr. Pinter learned he had cancer of the esophagus in 2002. In 2005, when he received the Nobel Prize in Literature, he was unable to attend the awards ceremony at the Swedish Academy in Stockholm but delivered an acceptance speech from a wheelchair in a recorded video. Photo: Steve Forrest for The New York Times

Daily Mirror/Lebrecht

Mr. Pinter with his first wife, Vivian Merchant, and son, Daniel, in 1960. In more than 30 plays — written between 1957 and 2000 and including masterworks like "The Birthday Party," "The Caretaker," "The Homecoming" and "Betrayal" — Mr. Pinter captured the anxiety and ambiguity of life in the second half of the 20th century with terse, hypnotic dialogue filled with gaping pauses and the prospect of imminent violence. Photo: Daily Mirror/Lebrecht

John Haynes/Lebrecht

Mr. Pinter in Samuel Beckett 's play "Krapp's Last Tape" in London in 2006. Along with another Nobel winner and his friend and mentor, Mr. Beckett, Mr. Pinter became one of the few modern playwrights whose names instantly evoke a sensibility. The adjective Pinteresque has become part of the cultural vocabulary as a byword for strong and unspecified menace. Photo: John Haynes/Lebrecht

Tristram Kenton/Lebrecht

Mr. Pinter demonstrating at an anti-U.S. march outside Guildhall, during President Reagan's visit to London in 1988. An actor, essayist, screenwriter, poet and director as well as a dramatist, Mr. Pinter was also publicly outspoken in his views on repression and censorship, at home and abroad. He used his Nobel acceptance speech to denounce American foreign policy, saying that the United States had not only lied to justify waging war against Iraq, but that it had also "supported and in many cases engendered every right-wing military dictatorship" in the last 50 years. Photo: Tristram Kenton/Lebrecht

Henrik Montgomery/Agence France-Presse -- Getty Images

Mr. Pinter during his on screen acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2005. His political views were implicit in much of his work. Though his plays deal with the slipperiness of memory and human character, they are also almost always about the struggle for power. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/Agence France-Presse -- Getty Images

Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

From left, Peter Maloney, Thomas Jay Ryan and Mary Beth Peil star in ''The Room'' at the Atlantic Theater in 2005. The dynamic in his work is rooted in battles for control, turf wars waged in locations that range from working-class boarding houses (in his first produced play, "The Room," from 1957) to upscale restaurants (the setting for "Celebration," staged in 2000). His plays often take place in a single, increasingly claustrophobic room, where conversation is a minefield and even innocuous-seeming words can wound. Photo: Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

From left, Ian McShane, Raúl Esparza, Eve Best and Gareth Saxe in "The Homecoming" in 2007, 40 years after this Harold Pinter play had its Broadway premiere. “The Homecoming” opened in London in June 1965, in a Royal Shakespeare Company production directed by Peter Hall. The story of an all-male family headed by a Lear-like father and the woman (Ms. Merchant, who starred in many of his plays) who enters and disrupts their domain scored a major success in London. Though it received a mixed reception in New York, “The Homecoming” won a Tony Award as best play and had a long run on Broadway. After these first three full-length plays — all stories of raffish characters in shabby environments — Mr. Pinter shifted his focus. His next three dramas were set in the worlds of art and publishing: “Old Times” (1971), “No Man’s Land” (1975) and “Betrayal” (1978), all studies of the unreliability of memory and the uncertainty of love. Photo: Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Ken Goff/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Mr. Pinter and Lady Antonia Fraser in 1980. During the run of "No Man's Land" Mr. Pinter began an affair with Lady Antonia Fraser, the biographer and historian, who was then married to Hugh Fraser, a conservative politician. In 1980 Mr. Pinter and Lady Antonia were married, with Mr. Pinter becoming the substitute paterfamilias of an extended family. Photo: Ken Goff/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images


He and his wife hosted gatherings in their Holland Park town house for liberal political seminars. Known as the June 20th Society, the participants included Mr. Hare, Ian McEwan, Michael Holroyd, John Mortimer, Salman Rushdie and Germaine Greer. In their discussions Mr. Pinter expressed the great struggle of the mid-20th century as one between "primitive rage" and "liberal generosity," Mr. Hare said. Photo: MSI/Lebrecht

Everett Collection

Julie Christie and Mr. Pinter on the set of the 1971 film "The Go-Between." After "Betrayal," 1978, Mr. Pinter's plays became shorter (like "A Kind of Alaska") and then, for about three years, they stopped. "Something gnaws away," he explained, "the desire to write something and the inability to do so." He added, "I think I was getting more and more imbedded in international issues." At the same time he continued his involvement in films. Photo: Everett Collection

Film Society of Lincoln Center

Mr. Pinter, left, as Sam Ross and Ian Hart as Mickey in Jez Butterworth's 1997 movie "Mojo." He often directed plays by others, especially those by Simon Gray ("Butley," "Otherwise Engaged"), and occasionally his own work. Increasingly and with greater zeal he appeared as an actor - onstage with Paul Eddington in "No Man's Land" and in films like "Mojo." Throughout his life he specialized in playing menacing characters, including several in his own plays ("The Hothouse," "One for the Road"). Photo: Film Society of Lincoln Center

Dave M. Benett/Getty Images

Mr. Pinter and Ms. Fraser after a performance of "The Homecoming" in London in 2008. Through the years Mr. Pinter became known, especially to the British news media, for having a prickly personality. "There is a violence in me," Mr. Pinter once said, "but I don't walk around looking for trouble." The director Richard Eyre said in a testimonial book published for Mr. Pinter's 70th birthday that he was "sometimes pugnacious and occasionally splenetic" but "just as often droll and generous - particularly to actors, directors and (a rare quality this) other writers." Photo: Dave M. Benett/Getty Images

Jonathan Player for The New York Times

Revivals of Mr. Pinter's work have become increasingly frequent in recent years. Mr. Pinter said he thought of theater as essentially exploratory. "Even old Sophocles didn't know what was going to happen next," he said. "He had to find his way through unknown territory. At the same time, theater has always been a critical act, looking in a broad sense at the society in which we live and attempting to reflect and dramatize these findings. We're not talking about the moon." Speaking about his intuitive sense of writing, he said, "I find at the end of the journey, which of course is never ending, that I have found things out." Photo: Jonathan Player for The New York Times