Arthur Asher Miller (October 17, 1915 – February 10, 2005) was an American playwright and essayist in the 20th-century American theater. Listen to an Arthur Miller audiobook for free: https://www.amazon.com/gp/search?ie=UTF8&tag=tra0c7-20&linkCode=ur2&linkId=049a7460b427c393934f983b4ac9c7f9&camp=1789&creative=9325&index=books&keywords=arthur%20miller%20audiobook
Among his most popular plays are All My Sons (1947), Death of a Salesman (1949), The Crucible (1953), and A View from the Bridge (1955, revised 1956). He wrote several screenplays and was most noted for his work on The Misfits (1961). The drama Death of a Salesman has been numbered on the short list of finest American plays in the 20th century.
Miller was often in the public eye, particularly during the late 1940s, 1950s, and early 1960s. During this time, he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee, and married Marilyn Monroe. In 1980, Miller received the St. Louis Literary Award from the Saint Louis University Library Associates. He received the Praemium Imperiale prize in 2001, Prince of Asturias Award in 2002, and the Jerusalem Prize in 2003, as well as the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize in 1999.
Christopher Bigsby wrote Arthur Miller: The Definitive Biography based on boxes of papers Miller made available to him before his death in 2005. The book was published in November 2008, and is reported to reveal unpublished works in which Miller “bitterly attack[ed] the injustices of American racism long before it was taken up by the civil rights movement”.
In his book Trinity of Passion, author Alan M. Wald conjectures that Miller was “a member of a writer’s unit of the Communist Party around 1946,” using the pseudonym Matt Wayne, and editing a drama column in the magazine The New Masses.
In 1999 the writer Christopher Hitchens attacked Miller for comparing the Monica Lewinsky investigation to the Salem witch hunt. Miller had asserted a parallel between the examination of physical evidence on Lewinsky’s dress and the examinations of women’s bodies for signs of the “Devil’s Marks” in Salem. Hitchens scathingly disputed the parallel. In his memoir, Hitch-22, Hitchens bitterly noted that Miller, despite his prominence as a left-wing intellectual, had failed to support author Salman Rushdie during the Iranian fatwa involving The Satanic Verses.
In 1964, After the Fall was produced, and is said to be a deeply personal view of Miller’s experiences during his marriage to Monroe. The play reunited Miller with his former friend Kazan: they collaborated on both the script and the direction. After the Fall opened on January 23, 1964, at the ANTA Theatre in Washington Square Park amid a flurry of publicity and outrage at putting a Monroe-like character, called Maggie, on stage. Robert Brustein, in a review in the New Republic, called After the Fall “a three and one half hour breach of taste, a confessional autobiography of embarrassing explicitness … there is a misogynistic strain in the play which the author does not seem to recognize. … He has created a shameless piece of tabloid gossip, an act of exhibitionism which makes us all voyeurs, … a wretched piece of dramatic writing.” That same year, Miller produced Incident at Vichy. In 1965, Miller was elected the first American president of PEN International, a position which he held for four years. A year later, Miller organized the 1966 PEN congress in New York City. Miller also wrote the penetrating family drama, The Price, produced in 1968. It was Miller’s most successful play since Death of a Salesman.
In 1968, Miller attended the Democratic National Convention as a delegate for Eugene McCarthy. In 1969, Miller’s works were banned in the Soviet Union after he campaigned for the freedom of dissident writers. Throughout the 1970s, Miller spent much of his time experimenting with the theatre, producing one-act plays such as Fame and The Reason Why, and traveling with his wife, producing In the Country and Chinese Encounters with her. Both his 1972 comedy The Creation of the World and Other Business and its musical adaptation, Up from Paradise, were critical and commercial failures.
Miller was an unusually articulate commentator on his own work. In 1978 he published a collection of his Theater Essays, edited by Robert A. Martin and with a foreword by Miller. Highlights of the collection included Miller’s introduction to his Collected Plays, his reflections on the theory of tragedy, comments on the McCarthy Era, and pieces arguing for a publicly supported theater. Reviewing this collection in the Chicago Tribune, Studs Terkel remarked, “in reading [the Theater Essays]…you are exhilaratingly aware of a social critic, as well as a playwright, who knows what he’s talking about.”
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