Three on a Match – The New Yorker

Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, and Rafe Spall in Pinter’s pas de trois.“Harold Pinter’s artistic vision focussed less on love than on the con. Born in 1930, Pinter grew up Jewish in modest circumstances in London’s East End, the beloved only child of hardworking parents, whose own forebears had emigrated to escape the pogroms in Poland and Russia at the turn of the last century. In 1939, Pinter, along with twenty-four other kids from his school, was evacuated to a mock-Gothic castle in Cornwall. He called this separation from his parents “traumatic,” and, in Michael Billington’s ample 1996 biography, he described a heart-wrenching pilgrimage that the couple made to see him during his exile on the coast. “When they left to get the bus it was a long way back to the lodge for me to walk,” Pinter, who died in 2008, said. “But I went all the way to the castle and looked back and could just see them as pinpoints waiting for the bus on the road; and I suddenly ran all the way back to them over the mounds of grass, racing towards them and of course they came towards me too.” That was love. But there’s no drama in reciprocation. Spiritually orphaned—“There was no fixed sense of being . . . of being . . . at all,” Pinter said of his life during the evacuation—the burgeoning playwright was inducted then, and during the war-torn years that followed, into a world of displaced boys, lads who showed him how guile, lies, and emotional distance could not only help get the girl but also contribute to her destruction. “I think as a result of that loss and confusion, one became, generally speaking, nastier,” he said. “Horrid is the word. I think we were all a bunch of horrid little boys because of the loss of security.”

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