Pinter/PROUST: A Closer Look at The New Yorker Review.

How great is it that The New Yorker recognized the noteworthiness of  The Proust Screenplay reading by reviewing it.  Just seeing the review that named names  – and to see that one special name in the iconic  New Yorker  typeface (called adobe caslon), was a thrill of its own.


The article is in The New Yorker on line edition in its Culture column written by Elisabeth Zerofsky. Other articles by Ms. Zerofsky include a column featured in the News Desk on the Brooklyn Neighborhood of Park Slope, where New York’s Mayor lives ( and where I lived before I moved to Manhattan), and an article in the book review section.


After giving the history of the Proust Screenplay, including  Di Trevis’s  prior London production obtained mainly from the pre-show talk with director Di Trevis , Zerofsky desribes the adaptor’s dilemna:

The adapter’s quandary is similar to the translator’s: is the task to stick clunkily but closely to the art of the original, thereby rendering something that will be recognizable to those familiar with the original form, but which is perhaps slightly awkward standing alone? Or is the work itself to be taken as a jumping-off point, from which the adapter or translator’s own particular talents may sweep in and create something related, but with a different texture and its own separate space in the world?


source: Chrissy Lampard

In this case, Pinter did the latter: he created a version of Remembrances of Things Past  both in a different medium and a different genre. It makes no pretense of recreating the novel.  I agree with her description of the reading as a “somewhat skeletel, impressionistic portrait of Proust’s novel, a series of staged images and vignettes strung together:”  the metaphor works for me and nicely ties into the part impressionists play in Proust and the screenplay.Overall, the review found good things in the performance, including the actors.

I also like that now, whenever anyone researches The Proust Screenplay,   then this  New York City Production will be referenced, together with a review.   This gives  Di Trevis and the production a certain status as theater. 

Yes, yes, the reviewer wants to see more of Marcel (Peter Clements) , but that doesn’t necessarily mean she wants to see  less of Swann (Richard Armitage), and of Armitage she  said nothing more than he was “strapping,’ which I associate more with  John Standring than Richard Armitage and says little about his individual performance and more about how he looks. I don’t think “strapping” would necessarily apply to Charles Swann.

But – and it’s a big but- that trade off is really worth it, because Ms. Zerkofsky didn’t find it necessary to describe Armitage  as the actor who played Thorin Oakenshield or John Thornton in North and South. She assumed, it appears, that readers would know the name, and if not, maybe they should  look it up.  That’s an attitude I like- especially when it’s in The New Yorker.

15 thoughts on “Pinter/PROUST: A Closer Look at The New Yorker Review.

    • Pinter fanficed Proust, there said it out loud twice.
      We’re totally legit now, and can count Harold Pinter in our numbers. I feel intellectually cleansed.
      Thank you Richard, New Yorker, Mr Pinter, and of course Perry 🙂


        • A fan fic does not necessarily change those things (OK, mine do ) but mostly they give us a different version of the story, a different perspective. And Pinter must have offered something new, or what would have been the point of the work? What we see is Pinter’s interpretation, his version.


            • That’s not what I understood fanfiction to be. When you say ” a different version,” any thing based on a prior work is a different version.Every remake would be fanfiction. But perhaps the definition is broader than I think.


              • I spent some time yesterday reading up on this, it appears to be a touchy subject among the literati.
                But the general consensus is, that if published by the traditional route, ‘adaptation’ and ‘re-working’ is a legitimate practice, and an ‘hommage’ to original.
                If, however you e-publish, it’s a fanfic.
                ‘I love the smell of snobbery in the morning’


              • I can see why it’s a touchy subject. So, your research showed that in the end, it’s where you publish, not what? Does that mean that e-published fanfic that makes its way to a kindle book, self published or not, is no longer fanfic?


              • Well, there’s the rub, origin seems to be the issue. Respectability in the literary world still comes from traditional publishing. If you e-published first, no agent, no publishing deal, then you obviously do not meet the industry approved standard.
                The publishers who took up ‘50 Shades’ didn’t help, a major fail there. It turned ‘fanfic’ into a bad joke, thus characterizing all writers thereof as silly, bored, and for the most part, housewives, with no acceptable right to publish.
                There are an increasing amount of voices from within questioning this; Neil Gaiman for one has some interesting things to say on the subject.


  1. Thanks for your take on the article, Perry. As an audience member on the night, you’re able to compare the writer’s thoughts to your own impressions and place it all in context for the rest of us.

    I definitely think we should be pleased that RA got a mention, and not dwell on the nature of it- he was the only actor other than Peter Clements to be singled out, and that’s all to the good.
    I’m glad we finally have an article that is closer to an actual review, and in the New Yorker no less, that we can keep to help document this small, but interesting, chapter in RA’s acting career.


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