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Description - Arthur Miller by Christopher Bigsby

This is the long-awaited biography of one of the twentieth century's greatest playwrights whose postwar decade of work earned him international critical and popular acclaim. Arthur Miller was a prominent figure in American literature and cinema for over sixty years, writing a wide variety of plays - including The Crucible, A View from the Bridge, All My Sons, and Death of a Salesman - which are still performed, studied and lauded throughout the world. Born in 1915 to moderately affluent Jewish-American parents, Miller wrote during a fascinating time in American history. The Great Depression was a period of deprivation for many that left an indelible mark on the national psyche, and, like many, Miller found hope for the beleaguered common man in Communism. The Second World War elevated the common man to war hero, but when the Cold War subsequently began, the ugly elements of American conservatism freely persecuted writers and artists who had embraced Communism. Miller was among them. His refusal to give evidence against others to the notorious House Un-American Activities Committee in 1956 gave him a heroic role to play. In that same year, Arthur Miller momentously married the young actress Marilyn Monroe, a marriage that remains famous to this day. Christopher Bigsby's gripping, meticulously researched biography, based on boxes of papers made available to him before Miller's death, offers new insights into their marriage, and sheds new light on how their relationship informed Miller's subsequent great plays. After his death in 2005, many respected actors, directors and producers paid tribute to Miller, calling him 'the last great practitioner of the American stage'. Christopher Bigsby's supremely authoritative biography does full justice to Miller's life and art.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780297854418
ISBN-10: 0297854410
Format: Hardback
(239mm x 161mm x 63mm)
Pages: 752
Imprint: Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Publish Date: 20-Nov-2008
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Book Reviews - Arthur Miller by Christopher Bigsby

US Kirkus Review » Copiously researched, deftly written biography that expands our understanding of a major figure in American letters.The success of All My Sons in 1947 gave Arthur Miller (1915 - 2005) enduring fame and an equally enduring, bifurcated reputation. Some hailed him as an honest, forceful voice in American theater, while others dismissed him as the mouthpiece of leftist pieties. Bigsby (American Studies/Univ. of East Anglia; Neil LaBute, 2008, etc.) gives a remarkably full account of this complex and somewhat remote figure, emphasizing the first half of Miller's life. (This makes sense, since the playwright repeatedly mined his past for subject matter.) The author draws on unpublished material and private papers, as well as numerous personal conversations and interviews with the playwright in the years before his death. Bigsby dutifully covers the major works - All My Sons, Death of a Salesman, The Crucible - their productions on both sides of the Atlantic and their critical receptions. He gives particularly illuminating attention to Miller's university writings, his early life in the theater, his little-known work in radio and published and unpublished fiction. This helps give a fuller picture of the emerging writer, and Bigsby is good at identifying certain themes - a preoccupation with the consequences of actions, for example - that developed early on. Aided by his interviews with Miller, he writes sensitively about the lasting influence of relationships with family, friends, colleagues such as Elia Kazan, and wives, especially Marilyn Monroe. The author judiciously treats Miller's politics, including a dramatic appearance at the HUAC hearings, and he puts the playwright's deeply held views in the context of youthful experiences during the Depression. Without scanting Miller's moral seriousness, Bigsby doesn't really see him as an intellectual, writing that "he was in fact less concerned to engage with abstract ideas than with observed lives."A richly detailed, revealing look at the making of a playwright and a man. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Christopher Bigsby

Christopher Bigsby is Professor of American Studies at the University of East Anglia, and is Director of the Arthur Miller Centre there.

Books By Christopher Bigsby

New Introduction to American Studies by Christopher Bigsby
Hardback, October 2015
Viewing America by Christopher Bigsby
Hardback, October 2013
Arthur Miller by Christopher Bigsby
Paperback, September 2012
Cambridge Companion to Arthur Miller by Christopher Bigsby
Paperback, April 2010