Arthur Miller

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Miller, Arthur,

1915–2005, American dramatist, b. New York City, grad. Univ. of Michigan, 1938. One of America's most distinguished playwrights, he has been hailed as the finest realist of the 20th-century stage. Miller's plays are, above all, concerned with morality as they reflect the individual's response to the manifold pressures exerted by the forces of family and society. Recurring themes of his major works involve the overwhelming importance of personal and social responsibility and the moral corruption that results from betraying the dictates of conscience.

Miller's masterpiece, Death of a Salesman (1949; Pulitzer Prize), is the story of a salesman betrayed by his own hollow values and those of American society. The Crucible (1953) is both a dynamic dramatization of the 17th-century Salem witch trials and a parable about the United States in the McCarthy era (see McCarthy, Joseph RaymondMcCarthy, Joseph Raymond,
1908–57, U.S. senator from Wisconsin (1947–57), b. near Appleton, Wis. He practiced law in Wisconsin and became (1940) a circuit judge. He served with the U.S. marines in the Pacific in World War II, achieving the rank of captain.
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); it has been his most frequently produced work. In A View from the Bridge (1955; Pulitzer Prize) Miller studies a Sicilian-American longshoreman whose unacknowledged lust for his niece destroys him and his family. Miller's tumultuous life with his second wife, Marilyn MonroeMonroe, Marilyn,
1926–62, American movie actress, b. Los Angeles as Norma Jean Baker or Norma Jeane Mortenson. Raised in orphanages after 1935 and first married at 14, Monroe, who began her career as a pin-up model, became a world-famous sex symbol and, after her death, a
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, to whom he was married from 1956 to 1961, is fictionalized in his After the Fall (1964), and a barely disguised version of the glamorous but troubled actress also appears in his last play, Finishing the Picture (2004).

Miller's other plays include The Man Who Had All the Luck (1940), All My Sons (1947), Incident at Vichy (1965), The Price (1968), The Creation of the World and Other Business (1972), The American Clock (1980), The Ride down Mount Morgan (1991), Broken Glass (1994), and Resurrection Blues (2002). He also wrote the screenplay for The Misfits (1961); The Hook (1950), an unfilmed screenplay, was produced on stage in 2015. His other works include the television dramas Playing for Time (1980) and Clara (1991); a novel, Focus (1945); and two books of short stories (1967, 2007). Miller's The Theater Essays (1971, rev. ed. 1996) is a collection of writings about the craft of playwriting and the nature of modern tragedy, and Echoes down the Corridor (2000) is a collection of essays, many of them autobiographical. He collaborated with his third wife, the photographer Inge Morath (1923–2002), on several books; their In Russia (1969) is a study of the Soviet Union.

Bibliography

See his autobiography, Timebends (1987); M. C. Roudane, Conversations with Arthur Miller (1987), S. Centola, Arthur Miller in Conversation (1993), M. Gussow, Conversations with Miller (2002); biographies by M. Gottfried (2003) and C. Bigsby (2008); J. Meyers, The Genius and the Goddess: Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe (2010); studies by B. Nelson (1970), R. Hayman (1972), J. J. Martine, ed. (1979), D. Welland (1979, repr. 1985), L. Moss (rev. ed. 1980), H. Bloom, ed. (1987), J. Schlueter and J. K. Flanagan (1987), N. Carson (1988), P. Singh (1990), S. R. Centola, ed. (1995), A. Griffin (1996), T. Otten (2002), C. Bigsby (2004), and E. Brater, ed. (2005).

Miller, Arthur

 

Born Oct. 17, 1915, in New York. American playwright.

The son of a Jewish small businessman, Miller graduated from the University of Michigan in 1938. His play The Man Who Had All the Luck (1944) and his novel Focus (1945) contained the basic themes of his work: the moral dignity of the average man and individual behavior and psychology in a social milieu. In his play All My Sons (1947; Russian translation, 1948), Miller portrayed the decline of the family of an industrialist who made a fortune during the war. The tragedy Death of a Salesman (1949; in Russian translation, 1956), which won the Pulitzer Prize, revealed the illusoriness of “success.” Miller’s historical chronicle The Crucible (1953) makes use of 17th-century events to create an allegory on McCarthyism and modern witch hunts. In his drama A View From the Bridge (1955; Russian translation, 1957), Miller portrayed a renegade and informer.

Miller’s tendency toward a metaphysical treatment of characters and ethical categories is a result of his attempt to raise the commonplace to the level of tragedy; this tendency is most ap-parent in his play A Memory of Two Mondays (1955; Russian translation, 1958) and in his screenplay and novella The Misfits (1961; Russian translation, 1961). The idea of man’s responsibility for all the evil in the world takes on an existentialist nuance in Miller’s drama After the Fall (1964) and in his anti-Nazi play Incident at Vichy (1965; in Russian translation, 1965), both of which were written in the tradition of intellectual drama. Tense psychological and ethical conflict is central to his play The Price (1967; Russian translation, 1968). The ironic collision between the immanent sinfulness of man and his yearning for a moral absolute provides the material for Miller’s comedy The Creation of the World and Other Business (1972).

From 1965 to 1971, Miller was president of the PEN Club. Many of his plays are in the repertoire of Soviet theaters.

WORKS

Collected Plays. New York, 1957.
In Russian translation:
P’esy. Moscow, 1960.

REFERENCES

Sovremennaia zarubezhnaia drama. Moscow, 1962.
Zlobin, G. P. Sovremennaia dramaturgiia SShA. Moscow, 1965.
Levidova, I. M. Artur Miller: Biobibliograficheskii ukazatel’. Moscow, 1961.
A. Miller: A Collection of Critical Essays. Edited by R. W. Corrigan. Englewood Cliffs (N.J.), 1969.
Nelson, B. A. Miller. New York, 1970.

G. P. ZLOBIN

Miller, Arthur

(1915–  ) playwright; born in New York City. He graduated from the University of Michigan (1938), where he won a prize for playwrighting. After serving in the U.S. Army in World War II, he enjoyed his first success with a novel, Focus (1945). His first play, The Man Who Had All the Luck (1944), was a flop, but All My Sons (1947) won the New York Drama Critic Circle Award. Two years later, Death of a Salesman won both the Drama Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize; the play, considered his most enduring work and an American classic, depicts the corrosive effects of self-deception on an ordinary man and his family. An Enemy of the People (1950) was a new translation of the Ibsen play. The Crucible (1953) told of the witch trials in Salem and was seen as a metaphor for his views on contemporary McCarthyite Red-baiting. Later plays include A View from the Bridge (1955) and After the Fall (1964), widely assumed to be based on his marriage to Marilyn Monroe (1956–60). He wrote an original screenplay, The Misfits (1961), which starred Monroe. His later works, including The American Clock (1980), met with little enthusiasm in the U.S.A., but he continued to enjoy a wide following in England and his plays are done in translations throughout the world.
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