The preeminent playwright of his generation, Harold Pinter honed his literary skills during his twenties, traveling the lonely countrysides of Britain and Ireland as the actor David Baron in different repertory theater companies. The ellipses and pauses injected into his subsequent scripts are the direct result of his actor's crucible, having learned in everything from generic detective thrillers to Shakespeare how long a ham can hold a provincial audience's rapt attention with silence. Though certainly influenced by the spare, oblique wry dialogue of spiritual mentor Samuel Beckett and to a lesser degree the French absurdist school (i.e., Eugene Ionesco), Pinter's plays seem much more reality-based, grounded in the daily give-and-take of marriage, male friendship and family politics of English commoners. He became a master of "subtext," of that which is unsaid, the psychological life running just under the normal life, which calls the tune. Some people compare David Mamet to Pinter, and while on the surface their terse styles may warrant this, Mamet is a pale imitation of Pinter.