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Arthur Miller: 1962-2005 by Christopher Bigsby – review

5 March 2011 4:06 PM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

A sympathetic account of Arthur Miller's later life depicts the playwright struggling to accept his creative demise

As F Scott Fitzgerald ruefully noted, there are no second acts in American life: the impatient marketplace decrees that early success leads directly towards oblivion, as newer talents bustle into view. Christopher Bigsby dealt with the productive first half of Arthur Miller's life in the initial instalment of his biography, so why should these last dejected decades be treated to a second outsize volume?

Miller's best plays – preachy democratisations of Ibsen, lumpenly prosaic despite their solemnity – were written between 1947 and 1955. After that he dwindled into an appendage of Marilyn Monroe; when they divorced in 1961 he became officially a has-been. Reviewing his new plays, as a critic remarked in 1971, was "like going to the funeral of a man you wish you could have liked more". Once when he attempted to hire a limo, »

- Peter Conrad

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