Pinter was known for plays such as The Birthday Party and The Caretaker—and later in his career as a salon leftist with a reflexive and increasingly dated hostility to the United States.

The British writer—born of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe—died after a six-year bout of cancer, at the age of 78.

It was never entirely clear how much the Nobel prize for literature awarded in 2005 represented recognition of his contribution as a dramatist, sympathy for the playwright's long illness—or merely a collective rebuke by Europe's liberal intellectual establishment of the Bush administration's foreign policy of which Pinter was so noted a critic.

For a reverential analysis of Pinter's works, read the obituary in today's New York Times. For Pinter's own rather confused explanation of his political views, embedded here is a recent interview with Charlie Rose.