Today's Blogs

The Wrath of Pinter

Bloggers discuss Harold Pinter’s vituperative Nobel Prize acceptance speech, the new Narnia film adaptation, and today’s World Cup draw.

The wrath of Pinter: In his Nobel Prize acceptance speech Wednesday night, playwright Harold Pinter quickly veered off the subject of literature to make an impassioned assault on American foreign policy, criticizing not only the conduct of the war in Iraq but what he said was 50 years of aggressive action in support of tyrannies worldwide.

“I’ve never been a fan of Harold Pinter’s plays. They are (pause) a little (pause) on the (pause) slow side. (Long pause.),” jokes uninspired liberal Gabriel at Modern Fabulosity. And his politics? “Cynical? Sure. But if you step outside of our patriotic-retrogressive bubble, you realize that America has had a hand in almost every major world crisis of the last few decades. In an age of secret CIA prisons, Abu Ghraib, and the funding of dictators … it’s high time we Americans got off our high horse, looked around, and honestly assessed our culpability in the problems of the planet.” Lefty Ed Strong edits Pinter into a satirical dialogue with Condoleezza Rice.

Plenty of liberals join the party. “God bless Pinter,” writes Rebecca, a Florida teacher, at Death and Taxes. “Well said … At last!!” praises London photographer Sotiris Zafeiris at Ecademy. “And what more can I say than he’s correct,” adds Mathew Harwood at Woodshavings. “What I liked most of about it—other than it was Chomskyite to a fault—was Pinter’s ability to bash Great Britain as well.”

Others aren’t exactly impressed. “Yet another leftocratic Nobel honoree blowhard is embracing the stupid,” laments Patrick al-Kafir at Clarity & Resolve. “What a lunatic!” exclaimsLifelike Pundit Patrick, a conservative government analyst. “These people have literally created an alternate reality for themselves.” Others see historical inaccuracies on top of ideological bias. “Of all the ludicrous revisionism in Pinter’s tub-thumbing Nobel speech, it is the falsification of Nicaraguan history that bothers me most,” writes Michael Moynihan at the Stockholm Spectator GroupBlog.

To some on the right, the selection of Pinter amounts to conspiracy. Conservative novelist Roger L. Simon writes that a liberal agenda is beginning to seem like a prerequisite for a Nobel Prize. “Good thing Saul Bellow got his back in 1976,” he says. “He might not have stood much of a chance in recent years.”

Curiously few literary bloggers fault Pinter for his choice of forum. Roy, at alicublog, is one of those that do.“By the time we get to the painful descriptions of Reagan’s Nicaragua policy, Pinter’s argument is as far off the mark as a bird’s argument with a cat,” he writes. “It is beyond the province of literature, and, I fear, there is nothing in it that can wrest the argument back toward terms more favorable to literature.”

Read more about Harold Pinter.

The lion, the witch, and the question of Christian allegory: The much-anticipated film adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe opens today, following considerable discussion in the press over the role of Christian allegory in the story.In a contentious Guardian review, Polly Toynbee wrote Wednesday that “Narnia represents everything that is most hateful about religion.” Why? “Because here in Narnia is the perfect Republican, muscular Christianity for America—that warped, distorted neo-fascist strain that thinks might is proof of right.”

Plenty of bloggers, sympathetic to the books and their message, disagree. “On the contrary; it makes perfect sense for Christ to be represented as a lion, especially with all the descriptive imagery Lewis uses to show how dual the nature of Aslan is,” says the Big Dog behind Shameless Self-Promotion. Far from cause for dismissal, Edward Champion points out that the reimagination of Christ is a firmly established, and well-respected, trope throughout even secular, modernist literature.

Many Christian Narnia supporters are experiencing a sense of déjà vu. “It’s The Passion all over again,” writesMean Mr. Mustard Russell Wardlow. “Expect a deluge of hyperbolic, hissing dreck similar to, but not quite as ridiculous as that of Toynbee … Nothing scares elite opinion like the whiff of Christianity in pop culture.”

Others believe the parallels are strained. “I … think that comparisons to The Passion … are basically misplaced,” writes Jason Apuzzo at conservative film forum Libertas. “In generic terms, The Passion was an edgy, risky indie feature released by a distributor that doesn’t even exist anymore. Narnia is a studio-released franchise picture for kids. Narnia will be judged against Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, The Passion was closer to Taxi Driver.”

For many Christian bloggers, however, the most appropriate comparisons to be made are to C.S. Lewis’ books and the gospels themselves—and nearly all are happy with the result. At Pisteuo, Justin Jenkins is also impressed. At Jack’s Pipe, Jon, a Lewis proselyte, notes at least one concession made by the director to contemporary culture, the expurgation of a particularly patriarchal line of dialogue.

Read more about Narnia and more about C.S. Lewis. Read Slate’s Meghan O’Rourke on the Narnia books and Liesl Schillinger on Lewis’ forbidden candy, Turkish Delight.

World Cup 2006: Groups were drawn today for the first stage of this summer’s World Cup. The United States will face traditional powerhouse Italy, a strong Czech side, and Ghana in the first round.

“This is a tough group,” writes the Football Commentator of the American draw. “Any team, on the day, could pull a surprise and show Italy, 3 time winners the door. That said, it should be Italy and the Czech Rep to go thru.” He’s not nearly as impressed with host Germany’s schedule. “Hmm, if there is always a group of death, this is the group of sleep.”

“As is to be expected the USA bashing has already begun on message boards across the globe,” writes a confident Greg Galitzine. “We’ll see. There may be some upset Italy fans when all is said and done.”

Read more about the World Cup.