ABSTRACT

“Art, Truth and Politics” juxtaposes the artist’s pursuit for truth with the citizen’s obligation to define the “real truth” of their lives. Drama does not need to distinguish what is real from what is unreal, leading an artist or spectator on an interminable quest to discover a play’s truth. However, citizens must identify what is true about their societies or risk losing a politics founded on dignity. Obtuse on this issue, Pinter leaves the reader to imagine what he must have meant by “the dignity of man.” In Anglo-European intellectual history, dignity typically refers to a quality—the soul or free will—that exceeds humanity’s material conditions. Conversely, Pinter’s definition of dignity corresponds with the existential poverty that he discusses in “Writing for the Theatre.” Pinter’s Nobel speech invites “us” to consider how dramatic truth—because it is easy to lose—concerns “what is so nearly lost to us.”

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