Abstract

Harold Pinter's first plays emerge in the wake of the postwar British encounter with European modernist theater that occurred simultaneously with the emergence of disruptive new content in realistic portrayals of working-class and lower-middle-class life. Pinter's early work proceeds from the twin imperatives of an antirealist and a realist drama, both of which were perceived as oppositional and avant-garde: the one primarily because of its form, the other because of its content. This article situates Pinter's style historically in relation to its formal conditions of possibility by using Roman Jakobson's model of the speech event to argue that the historical concurrence of these aesthetic antitheses not only produces the paradox that the poetic and referential functions become one and the same in the language of The Caretaker, but also makes its most audible stylistic imprint in the idiomatic figure and practice of the Pinteresque pause itself.

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