Harold Pinter and the Twilight of Modernism
The Frankfurt School's discourse on modernism has seldom been linked to contemporary drama, though the questions of aesthetics and politics explored by T.W. Adorno and others seem especially germane to the plays of Harold Pinter, which span high and low cultural forms and move freely from hermetic modernism to political engagement. Examining plays from 1958 to 1996, Varun Begley'sHarold Pinter and the Twilight of Modernism argues that Pinter's work simultaneously embodies the modernist principle of negation and the more fluid aesthetics of the postmodern.
Pinter is arguably one of the most popular and perplexing of modern dramatists writing in English. His plays prefigured, then chronicled, the crumbling divide between modernism and its historical 'others:' popular entertainment, politically committed art, and technological mass culture. Begley sheds new light on Pinter's work by applying the methods and problems of cultural studies discourse. Viewing his plays as a series of responses to fundamental aesthetic and political questions within modernism, Begley argues that, collectively, they narrate a prehistory of the postmodern.
- World Rights
- Page Count: 240 pages
- Dimensions: 6.2in x 0.8in x 9.3in
‘A substantial and important addition to Pinter criticism, and to modern drama generally, this exciting book by Varun Begley makes a case for reading Pinter’s work on the cusp of modernism/postmodernism, leading to some intriguing and original insights into the plays. I found the book again and again surprising, with scholarship that is sound and up to date. Harold Pinter and the Twilight of Modernism provides a platform for a new and productive phase of Pinter scholarship.’
W.B. Worthen, Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies, University of California, Berkeley
Varun Begleyis an associate professor in the Department of English at the College of William and Mary.
Table of contents
A last modernist
'someone called Pinter'
Negation, autonomy, commitment
Moonlight and modernity
1: The Politics of Negation
Reading The Birthday Party
The aesthetics of resistance: The Caretaker
Anti-Oedipus: The Homecoming
2: The Modernist as Populist
Reading The Dumb Waiter
A Slight Ache and the question of radio
Betrayal and mass culture
3: Towards the Postmodern
The memory plays: Pinter among the radicals
Subjects and Courses