Essay on Harold Pinter's 1971 Old Times

Essay on Harold Pinter's 1971 Old Times

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According to theatre reviewer Rachel Halliburton, “Pinter has turned the game of reinventing the past into a psychological game of Russian roulette” (1). She is, of course, speaking of Harold Pinter’s 1971 Old Times. Throughout Old Times Pinter slowly develops the hazy story of a married couple, Deeley and Kate, and Kate’s odd friend Anna through strong pauses and incoherent stories of the past. These tales show that whether stories of the past are fact or fiction they can still be a powerful factor in how the story develops.
Harold Pinter has been known to write many plays that include memory, thus they are aptly known as “memory plays” (Eder 1). They have been given this name because, “they focus on the shifting borders between past and present, between reality and imagination” (Eder 4). This brings back the notion that Deeley is often the girls’ only link to the present. Doris Eder cites Pinter himself saying, “there can be no hard distinction between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both…” (4). All of this is evident in Old Times as anything Anna speaks of needs to be looked at through many lenses. At one minute she would be speaking of casserole and another she is talking about Kate (Gainor et al 1022). Pinter once told Mel Gussow, “I… feel more and more that the past is not past, that it never was past. It’s present” (Eder 5). The epitome of this statement is how the story from Anna’s past about the man crying in her room on pages 1026 and 1027 is repeated during Kate’s ending monologue on pages 1040 and 1041 (Gainor et al). Accoring to Doris Eder:
The… question Old Times poses is whether time ‘has been regained and c...

... middle of paper ...

... 199. Detroit: Gale, 2005. Literature Resource Center. Web. 6 Oct. 2011.
Gainor, J. Ellen, Stanton B. Garner, and Martin Puchner. Old Times. 1971. The Norton Anthology of Drama. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2009. 1018-042. Print.
Halliburton, Rachel. "Elusive reality." Spectator 24 July 2004: 42. Literature Resource Center. Web. 6 Oct. 2011.
Pinter, Harold, and Carey Perloff. "My Lunches with Harold." American Theatre 18.8 (Oct. 2001): 24-26. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Jeffrey W. Hunter. Vol. 199. Detroit: Gale, 2005. Literature Resource Center. Web. 6 Oct. 2011.
Schreiber, Evelyn. "Stream-of-Consciousness and Freud's Primary Process: Comprehending Pinter's Old Times." Literature and Psychology (1994): 71-80. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Jeffrey W. Hunter. Vol. 199. Detroit: Gale, 2005. Literature Resource Center. Web. 6 Oct. 2011.

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