Dienstag, 27. März 2018

Time to forget (II):

"Early in 1982, I received an unexpected packet from London containing a letter from Harold Pinter and the manuscript of a new play, A Kind of Alaska, which, he said, had been inspired by a case history of mine in Awakenings. In his letter, Pinter said that he read my book when it originally came out in 1973 and had immediately wondered about the problems presented by a dramatic adaptation of this. But, seeing no ready solution to these problems, he had then forgotten about it. One morning eight years later, Pinter wrote, he had awoken with the first image and first words ("Something is happening") clear and pressing in his mind. The play had then "written itself" in the days and weeks that followed.
I could not help contrasting this with a play (inspired by same case history) which I had been sent four years earlier, where the author, in an accompanying letter, said that he had read Awakenings two months before and been so "influenced," so possessed, by it that he felt impelled to write a play straightaway. Whereas I loved Pinter's play - not least because it effected so profound a transformation, a "Pinterization" of my own themes - I felt the 1978 play to be grossly derivative, for it lifted, sometimes, whole sentences from my own book without transforming them in the least. It seemed to me less an original play than plagiarism or a parody (yet there was no doubting the author's "obsession" or good faith).
I was not sure what to make of this. Was the author too lazy, or too lacking in talent or originality, to make the needed transformation of my work? Or was the problem essentially one of incubation, that he had not allowed himself enough time for the experience of reading Awakenings to sink in? Nor had he allowed himself, as Pinter did, time to forget it, to let it fall into his unconscious, where it might link with other experiences and thoughts."

Oliver Sacks - The River of Consciousness

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