United States author Arthur Miller, new book

This video from the USA says about itself:

Williamstheatre presents THE CRUCIBLE by Arthur Miller. Directed by Omar Sangare. Once emblematic of political persecution in the 1950s, THE CRUCIBLE is an allegory that resonates wherever sanctimony is used as a weapon of oppression and intolerance. In this canonical American drama set during the seventeenth-century Salem witch trials, Arthur Miller explores human cruelty and the manipulations, accusations, and dishonesty that afflict a paranoid community looking for scapegoats.

Saturday, March 9, 2013.

By Gordon Parsons in Britain:

Pointed prose

Thursday 10th December 2015

Essays by US playwright Arthur Miller provide acute insights into the way we live now, says GORDON PARSONS

The Collected Essays of Arthur Miller
Edited by Matthew Roudane
(Bloomsbury, £30)

“HOW may man govern himself so that he may live more humanly, more alive?”

This question, according to one of the acknowledged major dramatists of the age Arthur Miller, is central to all great art.

Matthew Roudane’s “comprehensive selection” of Miller’s essays, covers virtually the whole of his working life from 1944 to 2000.

Not only do they majestically mark the centenary of his birth but they also emphatically establish him as one of the major social, political and philosophical commentators on our modern world.

Apart from perceptive analyses of his own works and the responses of US and foreign audiences to major plays like Death of a Salesman and A View from the Bridge, Miller ranges widely over the domestic and international political scene.

He was of course a central player in the McCarthyite persecution hysteria that swept the US post-1945, defying the Un-American Activities Committee and incensing the Establishment with The Crucible, his Salem witch-trial play.

There is throughout these essays a sense that a better world should, and could, be possible.

Sadly, but realistically, he notes the essential differences between the two near-revolutionary moments of his lifetime in the US, the 1930s depression when talk of “some form of socialist ownership had to be the next step” and the youth ferment of the 1950s and ’60s.

If the former was a revolt based on a social rationalism, the latter was based on individual mysticism — “solidarity,” as Miller would have it, as opposed to “loneliness.”

Although sympathetic, unlike his contemporary Bertolt Brecht, Miller was no Marxist — he was more a fellow traveller on the other side of the street.

While recognising the alienation of man, having become a part of the industrial machine, the dramatic focus of his plays is the search for a middle way.

They are a search for meaning within individual identity and fulfilment through the essential need for social unity with his fellow men.

As the essays proceed through the half century, the early note of almost evangelically naive idealism — “When we find the essence of America, we shall be able to forge a foreign policy capable of arousing the hopes and the love that is neither in governments nor armies nor banks nor institutions, the force that rests in the heart of man” — fades to one of resigned reality.

Yet he still denies the dominant realism of modern theatre which depicts “man’s defeat as the ultimate implication of an overwhelming determinism.”

There is not a great deal of humour here.

But even so Miller reveals a Swiftian satiric edge when he recommends that the prolific US legal execution system should be privatised.

“The condemned would, of course, get a percentage of the gate” from the “immense paying audiences,” he writes.

Anyone who has read his magnificent autobiography Timebends will recognise Miller’s command of language in this collection.

Essay after essay rings with memorable quotations. Informative, provocative, entertaining — I shall return often to Miller’s overview of our world through the vivid lens of his playwright’s perceptions.

American playwright Edward Albee: The character of his opposition to the status quo: here.

4 thoughts on “United States author Arthur Miller, new book

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