Biography of Arthur Miller (1915-2005)

American playwright, born in New York on October 17, 1915 and died in Connecticut on February 11, 2005, which is considered one of the most prominent authors in English of the 20th century.

His name appears among the greatest writers of the contemporary American theater, O'Neill and Elmer Rice, Saroyan, Tennessee Williams or Clifford Odets, and all postwar generation. Its purpose was to reinstate the tragedy as the highest form of dramatic expression, and break with the environment imposed by the cold war and the increasing commercialism of Broadway.

In 2002 he/she was awarded the Prince of Asturias literature prize "for his contribution to the renewal of the permanent humanistic lesson from the best Theater [...] and its capacity to transmit from the scene concerns, conflicts and the aspirations of today's society."

His works show a tragic vision of the relationship between the private and the social, between individual morality and law, between guilt and innocence. Dramas such as death of a salesman (1949), the witches of Salem (1953), view from the bridge (1955), rebel lives (1961), incident at Vichy (1964) or the creation of the world (1972) investigate the dreams of the American middle class and the failure of his self-made man ('man himself'). Most of his works were translated into several languages, represented by the most important actors and mounted by the most prestigious directors; some adapted to cinema and became hit movies.

Author politically committed, Miller adopted a critical attitude towards his country. In addition to his brave showdown the Committee on UN-American activities during the "witch hunt" directed by McCarthy, opposed firmly the American intervention in Korea and Viet Nam.

Life and work

Son of emigrated Jewish Viennese, his family was about to disappear during the great depression when his father, who was a manufacturer of coats, ruined. He/She studied in his hometown and in 1932 began to play various trades; He/She worked at an auto parts store and in several newspapers. These works allowed him to pay for his studies of letters at the University of Michigan.

At age 28, he/she released his first comedy, the man who had all the luck in the world, which was followed by normal situation (1944). In 1945 he/she published a novel against anti-Semitism entitled Focus. At the end of the second world war wrote all my sons, which was premiered in New York on 29 January 1947 and for which he/she received the prize of the critics of New York next year.

In 1949 he/she released his masterpiece death of a salesman (1949), which earned him the New York critics Award and the Pulitzer Prize with just 33 years; Assembly directed by Elia Kazan was also awarded the prestigious Tony Award. The protagonist of the story, Willy Loman, inspired by a real character named Manny Newman, is a peddler that runs through New York and Boston during the forties, a tired man, whose dreams have not been met and his eldest son believes that a loser. The work represents the first denunciation of the failure of the American dream and shows that they can break all conventions on space and time scenic; Miller used the "past in present" and resorted to a stage divided into two to represent simultaneous actions in different places. The different adaptations of death of a salesman to film and television include the 1985 directed by Volker Schlöndorff, starring John Malkovich and Dustin Hofman.

Victim of the witch-hunt of McCarthy, Miller resisted harassment of the House UN-American activities Committee and agreed not to accuse his companions. Rather than join the silence, as did many others, during interrogations, Miller arrived to confront accusations. In 1953 he/she premiered the work the witches of Salem, a parable in which Miller criticized the repressive methods that he/she himself had suffered. Two years later he/she released Panorama from the bridge, described the life of the Italian emigrants; the work was a success and was made into a film in 1962. In 1956 he/she was sentenced for contempt but was finally acquitted. That same year he/she married Marilyn Monroe, after divorcing his first wife, Grace Slattery, with whom he/she had married in 1940. But the marriage with the star of Hollywood only lasted five years.

He continued premiering new works: incident at Vichy (1964); Memory of two Mondays (1955); The uprooted (1960), whose film adaptation, titled rebel lives, was starring Marilyn Monroe, Montgomery Clift , and Clark Gable; and after the fall (1963), a deep and intimate confession about his life with his famous ex-wife, who died in 1962. That same year he/she married the photographer's press Ingebord Morath, which wrote several works. In 1967 published the collection of stories already you don't need and the following year he/she released his last big success: the price.

Although it followed premiering new works, and up from Paradise (1972), an enemy of the people (1972) and Archbishop (1977), Miller began to be called moralistic and old-fashioned. Not returned to regain the favour of the public in his country until 1994, when he/she produced broken glass, first at the Booth Theatre in New York and later at the National Theatre in London.

During the last years of his life, he/she traveled all over the world and was hailed as a classic, but each time was more difficult for brand new in your country. Their latest releases were Mr. Peter's connections (1998), the descent of the mount Morgan (2000), he/she had written nine years earlier; and Finishing the Picture (2004), which, again, is based on an experience lived next to Marilyn Monroe.

Throughout his life he/she maintained his political activism. In 2000, he/she led a delegation of American intellectuals who travelled to Cuba to promote his country's links with the island. Shortly before his death presented a draft law to encourage playwrights negotiating with producers.

In terms of its connection with the film, wrote expressly for the screen Everybody wins, the scripts of the billionaire and rebel lives, both starring Marilyn Monroe; VU du pont, American clock; The crucible, film version of the witches of Salem; and Eden. He/She also published a book about the "Asian giant", titled China of today (1979), and the long autobiography, Timebends (1987) as well as the collection of essays over the years. Collected essays (2002).

Among many other awards, and besides those already mentioned, Miller received the award of theatre at the University of Michigan (1936 and 1937), the Premio Nacional de Teatro (1938) the Antoinette Perry Award (1953), the Gold Medal of Arts and letters (1959), the Anglo-American Theatre Prize (1966) and Arts Creative Brandeis Award (1970).

Related topics

Literature of United States of America.