Pinter: Influences

PINTER: [..] I read Hemingway, Dostoyevsky, Joyce, and Henry Miller at a very early age, and Kafka. I’d read Beckett’s novels, too, but I’d never heard of Ionesco until after I’d written the first few plays.

INTERVIEWER: Do you think these writers had any influence on your writing?

PINTER: I’ve been influenced personally by everyone I’ve ever read—and I read all the time—but none of these writers particularly influenced my writing. Beckett and Kafka stayed with me the most—I think Beckett is the best prose writer living. My world is still bound up by other writers—that’s one of the best things in it.

Dubliners by James Joyce

There are a few artists capable of consistently constructing powerful short stories: Chekhov, Turgenev, Hemingway; contemporaries include Julian Barnes and Julie Orringer.

My Joycean summer enables me to add another to my list, though in completing Dubliners, I have completed Joyce’s short story collection. The stories in Dubliners stand shoulder to shoulder with Chekhov’s oeuvre. Is there a weak story in the fifteen that make up Dubliners? After the Race perhaps, but it may open up on future readings. My favourite three, this time around, in ascending order would have to be: Araby, The Sisters and The Dead. There is sufficient subtlety and depth in the stories to repay many readings.

Twenty years ago I was fortunate to spend part of my education in Dublin. At that time, the city and, in many ways, the people that Joyce portrayed in Dubliners were recognisable. Given Joyce’s apparent manifesto in Dubliners, to portray the city in all it’s iniquity in order to “lead to the spiritual liberation of the city”, it is arguable whether he would feel sufficient progress has yet been made. But perhaps that edginess is what is required to make great cities.