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Customer Review

on 3 July 2001
Michael Billington, theatre critic for The Guardian for as long as anyone can remember, was well-placed to set Pinter in a left-wing, theatrical context far removed from the absurdist, psychoanalytical tack taken by critics such as Martin Esslin. Pinter himself offered full co-operation with the writing of this book, and consequently it is full of fascinating, previously unknown information. Hitherto extremely reticent - not to say defensive - about what inspired his work, here Pinter revealed how many of his great plays evolved from incidents in his life and, in the case of his 1978 play Betrayal, divulged information sizzling enough to make the front page of at least one Sunday newspaper. Always a thoughtful writer, Billington's suspicion of the vague or grandoise makes for clarity of argument and helps to demystify somewhat this most mysterious of writers. The faults of the book are the unsophisticated, clod-hopping prose and the fact that his understandable admiration for Pinter is wholly unleavened by critical detachment. Nevertheless, this is an essential text for anyone studying Pinter's work.
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