This is the long awaited biography of one of the twentieth century's greatest playwrights, Arthur Miller, whose post-war decade of work earned him international critical and popular acclaim.
Christopher Bigsby's gripping, meticulously researched biography, based on boxes of papers made available to him before Miller's death, examines Miller's refusal to name names before the notorious House Un-American Activities Committee, offers new insights into his marriage to Marilyn Monroe, and sheds new light on how their relationship informed Miller's subsequent great plays.
About the Author
Christopher Bigsby is Professor of America Studies and Director of the Arthur Miller Centre at the University of East Anglia.
Bigsby has produced a thorough book that is unlikely to be surpassed in its wealth of detail. -- Toby Young Mail on Sunday 20081207 [A] fascinating biography of Arthur Miller. -- Nicholas de Jongh Evening Standard 20081208 [A] colossal biography...This is a fat, endlessly informative book, the work of a lifetime...It is as definitive as we are likely to get, with plenty of new material. It also reveals much more than Miller did in his autobiography, Timebends. Above all, it is a book about the puzzle of politics and art and about the unreliable solution provided by sex--or Marilyn Monroe as it was once called. -- Bryan Appleyard Sunday Times 20081214 Christopher Bigsby's lengthy, sympathetic study contains electrifying new perspectives on its subject...The man who emerges from these pages is more of a showman than is usually credited and more of a modern hero, too. -- Vanessa Thorpe The Observer 20081214 Bigsby gives a remarkably full account of this complex and somewhat remote figure...A richly detailed, revealing look at the making of a playwright and a man. Kirkus Reviews 20090315 [A] multiperspective masterpiece, which surpasses all other Miller biographies, including his autobiography, Timebends. Bigsby gives the reader an intense and personal look at Miller's life, from his birth in 1915 to moderately affluent Jewish American parents and his college years working at a newspaper to his intense attraction and eventual marriage to Marilyn Monroe and his appearance before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Everything is here, from the mundane to the revelatory. This detailed look at his life reveals his shared experiences as the basis for his sympathies for the common man. -- Mark Alan Williams Library Journal 20090415 Bigsby leaves no facet of playwright Arthur Miller's life, public or private, unexamined in this literally and figuratively weighty tome...Although this volume covers only the first 48 of Miller's 89 years, the book is a definite godsend to theater lovers and generations of students probing Miller's life and work. -- Jack Helbig Booklist (starred review) 20090515 A feature of this encyclopedic study of the first half of Miller's life is the excellence of the writing and the trans-Atlantic acuity of observation. Bigsby is always at home in Miller's America...Bigsby's extended defense of Miller's gut rejection of Kazan's apostasy is an intellectual triumph. -- David Caute Spectator 20090103 Contains electrifying new perspectives on its subject...Miller, it's clear, was not a dry, cerebral naive but a principled, passionate talent, who recognized imperfection in himself and in others. The man who emerges from these pages is more of a showman than is usually credited and more of a modern hero, too. -- Vanessa Thorpe The Observer 20081214 A landmark biography. -- Toby Young Independent on Sunday 20081214 A masterly biography of Miller. -- Tony Rennell Daily Mail 20081220 [A] magisterial biography...This is a must-read for anyone seriously interested in twentieth century theatre and particularly Miller's life and work...The author goes into remarkable detail based on years of research, to come to conclusions about the life of a man who at his best was perhaps the greatest American playwright of the last fifty years, or possibly ever. -- Philip Fisher British Theatre Guide 20081221 [A] meteor-size new biography...Bigsby's book is crammed with piquant details. -- Dwight Garner New York Times 20090603 Monumental...A portrait of a man with a passion for social (and racial) justice and a fierce belief in responsibility for one's own life, though Miller was often harder on himself than on others for not always living up to such ideals. -- James Hebert creators.com 20090612 Thanks to Bigsby's research, particularly into previously unseen material, his account of Miller trying to hang on to his soul in midcentury America shows that he was large not least in his contradictions...What the book makes newly clear, though, is how much of Miller's work reflects his own personal struggles. -- Jeremy McCarter New York Times Book Review 20090628 Christopher Bigsby has a perfect ear for the manners and motions of Miller's art, and he tells a gripping story of Miller's hunt for truth. There are mysteries to bear and ironies to become invested in--all good biographies must have their share--and yet the Miller who emerges from this book is ambiguous enough to become a beacon of the Cold War period...Bigsby's biography is so effective because it manages to locate Miller's art in terms both of the progression of his idealism and the regressions of his actual experience. There can't be many writers who appeared to live so much at the center of their times and who suffered so much from that seeming centrality...One of the coups of Bigsby's terrific biography is that it finally allows Miller to name the names he refused to name in 1956. -- Andrew O'Hagan London Review of Books 20090101 [A] monumental new biography...Miller's art was a constant, arduous and often soul-searing process of working through themes from his life...[Bigsby's] book is a portrait of a man with a passion for social (and racial) justice and a fierce belief in responsibility for one's own life, though Miller was often harder on himself than on others for not always living up to such ideals. -- James Hebert San Diego Union-Tribune 20090607 Christopher Bigsby is the first to offer a serious biography since Miller's death. -- Robert Birnbaum The Morning News 20090731 Christopher Bigsby has very likely written the definitive biography of Miller...Bigsby has assiduously read countless unfinished scripts, unpublished stories, and drafts of Miller's plays, and he supplies abundant context so that the reader can compare Miller's views and social situations with those of his contemporaries. Bigsby takes extraordinary pains to explain how each play evolved and how it was received. He persuasively argues that Miller's career was shaped by a profound conviction that the theater could play a meaningful role in changing the world. Even if that belief appears overly hopeful, Miller's plays stand as a testament to his courageous capacity to explore dilemmas of civic conscience and the human heart. -- Michael Kammen Boston Globe 20090719