Friday, September 21, 2007

Arthur Miller (1915-2005)

Sierra Club


The job is to ask questions-it always was-and to ask them as inexorably as I can. And to face the absence of precise answers with a certain humility.


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American playwright. He is most famous for the plays Death of a Salesman and The Crucible. Miller was born in 1915 in New York City. His first play Honors at Dawn was produced at the University of Michigan. He won an Avery Hopwood Award in 1936. In 1944 his The Man Who Had All the Luck won a prize offered by New York City's Theatre Guild. Miller produced and published Death of a Salesman in 1949. In it Miller condemned the American ideal of prosperity on the grounds that few can pursue it without making dangerous moral compromises. The play won the Pulitzer Prize. In 1953 he produced and published The Crucible in which he wrote of the witch-hunts in colonial Salem, Mass., and implied a parallel with the congressional investigations into subversion then in progress. A View from the Bridge (1955) questioned the reasonableness of U.S. immigration laws. In 1956 Miller appeared before the House Un-American Activities Committee where he refused to inform on others. In 1958 he was prosecuted and convicted for contempt of congress. He published Collect Plays the same year.

In 1958 his conviction is overturned by a higher court. After the Fall (1964), which includes a thinly disguised portrayal of Miller's unhappy marriage to film actress Marilyn Monroe, offers a second, candid consideration of the congressional investigations in which Miller had been personally involved. Two one-act plays, Incident at Vichy (1964) and The Price (1968), deal with the universality of human responsibility and the guilt that often accompanies survival and success. His novel Focus (1945) is an ironic tale of anti-semitism. The screenplay for the Misfits (1961) is only one of several he has written. In 1969 he wrote In Russia, a travel piece with illustrations by his wife, the photographer Inge Morath. Chinese Encounters (1979) is another traveler's tale, while Salesman in Beijing (1984) is an account of the production of his play in Chinese. The Theater Essays of Arthur Miller were collected in 1978. In 1987, Miller published Timebends: A Life, his autobiography. [Adapted from Bohemian Link]

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