Saturday, October 15, 2005

Renaissance for the nationality that dared not speak its name

As I write Malcolm Arnold's wonderful First Symphony plays on BBC Radio 3, and CD Review in an hour promises a comparative review of Elgar's masterly Second. And we are celebrating the anniversary year for musical giants Thomas Tallis and Sir Michael Tippett.

Earlier this week Irish author John Banville's novel The Sea won the Man Booker Prize. And the media here is buzzing with the two hot news stories, Harold Pinter's Nobel Prize for literature, and the critical acclaim for the new Wallace and Grommit film, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.

Mark Lawson says it all in Renaissance for the nationality that dared not speak its name in this morning's Guardian:

This new fashionability - indeed even political correctness - of militant Englishness is a consequence of the Iraq war and is what links Gromit with Pinter. Twenty years ago, when the playwright first turned against the British and American governments over their foreign policy, such vociferous opposition to the special relationship was widely considered maverick or treacherous. Now Pinter's vilification of his own prime minister and the US president is broadly mainstream newspaper opinion, with only the Times consistently dissenting.

It doesn't much matter - because Pinter has written at least five indelibly great plays - but paradoxically the politicians he most detests probably helped him win the Nobel. His fierce opposition to Blair and Bush and their Iraq adventures has cleansed him of the stain of colonialism or obsolescence that modern English writers have carried internationally.

In the list of Nobel laureates on the Swedish Academy website, "Harold Pinter" is followed by "(UK)". The Curse of the Were-Rabbit will go down in movie reference books as a US-UK co-production. But that's wrong. Both are utterly and uncompromisingly English and that is what makes their astonishing success so interesting.

Now all we have to do is to get George Bush to eat our beef.

If you enjoyed this post take an overgrown path to Arnold's 9th - neglected 20th century masterpiece?invisible hit counter

Image credit: Wallace and Gromit - mario.lapam.mo.it

3 comments:

Pliable said...

One hour later... CD Review highlights Sir Adrian Boult's 1976 recording of Elgar 2 as being the best choice - lovingly produced by our great friend and Godfather of our son Christopher Bishop, and wonderfully engineered by Christopher Parker.

The only trouble is that this definitive recording is not currently in the EMI catalogue - presumably deleted to clear the decks for their forthcoming Robbie William's release.

Pliable said...

See also this link for one US viewpoint on the Pinter prize.

MythsteryGirl said...

I really enjoyed looking at your article on Wallace and Grommit music. I think it was very interesting and unique. Keep up the good work.