As widely predicted, the lecture attacked U.S. and British foreign policy, particularly the invasion of Iraq, which the dramatist described as “an act of blatant state terrorism.”
Due to ill health Pinter was unable to travel to Stockholm as originally planned. The 50-minute lecture, for which Pinter left his hospital bed, was pre-recorded in London and broadcast to the Swedish Academy and on British television.
Speaking in a fragile voice, perhaps the most surprising aspect of the address concerned his writing, about which Pinter is famously reticent. “I have often been asked how my plays come about. I cannot say. Nor can I sum up my plays, except to say this is what happened, that is what they said, that is what they did.”
If news of Pinter receiving the highest honor in literature was greeted with silence in Washington and Downing Street, both the U.S. and British governments may have felt justified in there muted response after last night’s scathing attack. The writer, whose dramas include the The Birthday Party, The Homecoming and The Caretaker, angrily and analytically blamed President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair for thousands of innocent deaths and called for the two leaders to be called to account.
“It is just that Bush and Blair be arraigned before the International Criminal Court of Justice,” said the 75-year-old writer who made his address from a wheelchair with his legs covered by a blanket. Pinter has been recovering from cancer of the esophagus and was recently readmitted to the hospital with severe leg pains.