A smart, absorbing blend of criticism and biography that demythologizes the writings of Britain's premier postwar dramatist. London theater critic Billington draws on interviews with Pinter (born 1930), his friends, and his co-workers to explore the links between the writer's personal experience and such plays as The Birthday Party and Betrayal; screenplays, including The Servant and Remains of the Day; and numerous television and radio dramas. This penetrating book discovers a good deal of autobiography in works previously thought to be forbiddingly abstract and philosophical. Billington argues persuasively, for example, that the frequent portraits of male camaraderie in Pinter's plays are based on the tightly knit group of boys with whom he formed lifelong friendships during their youth in London's Jewish East End. The critic's careful explication also convincingly refutes the idea that Pinter made an abrupt shift in the 1980s to become a ``protest'' playwright; Billington shows that the early works, which unflinchingly depict personal struggles for power, were just as politically charged, albeit more covertly. Some points are debatable, such as the contention that Pinter takes an essentially feminist view of male/female conflicts, and Billington tends to make all his points rather repetitiously. The book deals fairly evenhandedly with the combative playwright's private life, although his first marriage, to actress Vivien Merchant, is described almost exclusively from Pinter's point of view. (His second wife, historian Antonia Fraser, gets gentler treatment.) These are forgivable faults in a generally solid piece of research combined with a thoughtful analysis of Pinter's place in contemporary theater. Billington's knowledge of world dramatic literature and theatrical history puts his American colleagues to shame. Pinter's work has been obfuscated as often as illuminated by critics over the past 40 years; Billington combines intelligence with accessibility to create a fine theater book for the general reader.

Pub Date: March 24, 1997

ISBN: 0-571-17103-6

Page Count: 326

Publisher: Faber & Faber/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1997

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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