Books

The Essential Arthur Miller

Arthur Miller

An unforgettable portrait of a self-deluded anti-hero and the failure of the American dream; a classic parable of mass hysteria that became a powerful indictment of McCarthyism; a depiction of a family haunted by the death of their son and other ghosts of the past; a tragic examination of how one man's unhealthy obsession leads to the ultimate betrayal. Collected for the first time in a stylish box set, DEATH OF A SALESMAN, THE CRUCIBLE, ALL MY SONS and A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE are the masterpieces which secured Arthur Miller's place as the leading figure of the American stage.

The Classic Plays

Arthur Miller

An unforgettable portrait of a self-deluded anti-hero and the failure of the American dream; a classic parable of mass hysteria that became a powerful indictment of McCarthyism; a depiction of a family haunted by the death of their son and other ghosts of the past; a tragic examination of how one man's unhealthy obsession leads to the ultimate betrayal. DEATH OF A SALESMAN, THE CRUCIBLE, ALL MY SONS and A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE are the masterpieces which secured Arthur Miller's place as the leading figure of the American stage. Now these four essential plays are published together in this stunning hardback edition, alongside photographs of the stage productions taken by Miller's wife, Inge Morath, and other photographers.

An Enemy of the People

Arthur Miller

When Dr Stockmann discovers that the water in the small Norwegian town in which he is the resident physician has been contaminated, he does what any responsible citizen would do: reports it to the authorities. But Stockmann's good deed has the potential to ruin the town's reputation as a popular spa destination, and instead of being hailed as a hero, Stockmann is labelled an enemy of the people. Arthur Miller's adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's classic drama is a classic in itself, a penetrating exploration of what happens when the truth comes up against the will of the majority.

The Ride Down Mt. Morgan

Arthur Miller

A car wreck on the slopes of Mount Morgan puts insurance tycoon Lyman Felt in the hospital. While Lyman recovers, two women meet in the hospital waiting room only to discover that they are both married to him. With his secrets exposed, Lyman tries to justify himself to the two women - the prim, cultured Theo and the restless, ambitious Leah - at the same time hoping to convince himself that he is blameless.

Moving between broad farce and delicate tragedy, The Ride Down Mt. Morgan explores the struggle between honesty with others and honesty with oneself.

Resurrection Blues

Arthur Miller

Arthur Miller's penultimate play, Resurrection Blues, is a darkly comic satirical allegory that poses the question: What would happen if Christ were to appear in the world today?

In an unidentified Latin American country, General Felix Barriaux has captured an elusive revolutionary leader. The rebel, known by various names, is rumoured to have performed miracles throughout the countryside. The General plans to crucify the mysterious man, and the exclusive television rights to the twenty-four-hour reality-TV event have been sold to an American network. An allegory that asserts the interconnectedness of our actions and each person's culpability in world events, Resurrection Blues is a comedic and tragic satire of precarious morals in our media-saturated age.

All My Sons

Arthur Miller

In Joe and Kate Keller's family garden, an apple tree - a memorial to their son Larry, lost in the Second World War - has been torn down by a storm. But his loss is not the only part of the family's past they can't put behind them. Not everybody's forgotten the court case that put Joe's partner in jail, or the cracked engine heads his factory produced which caused it and dropped twenty-one pilots out of the sky ...

A View from the Bridge

Arthur Miller (and others)

Arthur Miller's play A View from the Bridge is a tragic masterpiece of the inexorable unravelling of a man, set in a close-knit Italian-American community in 1950s New York.

Eddie Carbone is a longshoreman and a straightforward man, with a strong sense of decency and of honour. For Eddie, it's a privilege to take in his wife's cousins, Marco and Rodolpho, straight off the boat from Italy. But, as his niece Catherine begins to fall for one of them, it's clear that it's not just, as Eddie claims, that he's too strange, too sissy, too careless for her, but that something bigger, deeper is wrong - and wrong inside Eddie, in a way he can't face. Something which threatens the happiness of their whole family.

This Penguin Classics edition includes an introduction by the author and a new foreword by actor Philip Seymour Hoffman.

A Streetcar Named Desire

Tennessee Williams (and others)

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire is the tale of a catastrophic confrontation between fantasy and reality, embodied in the characters of Blanche DuBois and Stanley Kowalski. This Penguin Modern Classics edition includes an introduction by Arthur Miller.

'I have always depended on the kindness of strangers'

Fading southern belle Blanche DuBois is adrift in the modern world. When she arrives to stay with her sister Stella in a crowded, boisterous corner of New Orleans, her delusions of grandeur bring her into conflict with Stella's crude, brutish husband Stanley Kowalski. Eventually their violent collision course causes Blanche's fragile sense of identity to crumble, threatening to destroy her sanity and her one chance of happiness.

Tennessee Williams's steamy and shocking landmark drama, recreated as the immortal film starring Marlon Brando, is one of the most influential plays of the twentieth century.

Tennessee Williams (1911-1983) was born in Columbus, Mississippi. When his father, a travelling salesman, moved with his family to St Louis some years later, both he and his sister found it impossible to settle down to city life. He entered college during the Depression and left after a couple of years to take a clerical job in a shoe company. He stayed there for two years, spending the evenings writing. He received a Rockefeller Fellowship in 1940 for his play Battle of Angels, and he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1948 and 1955. Among his many other plays Penguin have published The Glass Menagerie (1944), The Rose Tattoo (1951), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955), Sweet Bird of Youth (1959), The Night of the Iguana (1961), and Small Craft Warnings (1972).

If you enjoyed A Streetcar Named Desire, you might like The Glass Menagerie, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.

'Lyrical and poetic and human and heartbreaking and memorable and funny'
Francis Ford Coppola, director of The Godfather

'One of the greatest American plays'
Observer

After the Fall

Arthur Miller

Quentin is a successful lawyer in New York, but inside his head he is struggling with his own sense of guilt and the shadows of his past relationships. One of these an ill-fated marriage to the charming and beautiful Maggie, who went from operating a switchboard to become a self-destructive star - a singer everyone wanted a piece of.

With tremendous psychological acuity and depth, and a brilliant, dreamlike structure, After the Fall is a literary masterpiece, drawing on Miller's own life - the story of a man striving to comprehend his feelings for his friends, family and the women he has loved.

Incident at Vichy

Arthur Miller

In Vichy France, 1942, a group of men sit outside an office, waiting to be interviewed. The reason they have been pulled off the street and taken there is obvious enough. They are, for the most part, Jews. But how serious an offence this is, and how they are to suffer for it, is not clear, and they hope for the best. But as rumours pass between them of trains full of people locked from the outside and furnaces in Poland, and although they reassure themselves that nothing so monstrous could be true, their panic rises.

Arthur Miller's claustrophobic play of how the inconceivable becomes allowed to pass, Incident at Vichy is one of the most indispensable, moving pieces of art about the Holocaust.

Focus

Arthur Miller

A reticent personnel manager living with his mother, Mr Newman shares the prejudices of his times and of his neighbours - and neither a Hispanic woman abused outside his window nor the persecution of the Jewish store owner he buys his paper from are any of his business. Until Newman begins wearing glasses, and others begin to mistake him for a Jew.

Arthur Miller's chilling novel displays the same searing moral precision and emotional intensity of his plays, as the intensity of anti-Semitism in 1945 New York mounts, and the prejudices Newman shares begin to turn threateningly against him.

The Price

Arthur Miller

Victor, a New York cop nearing retirement, moves among furniture in the disused attic of a house marked for demolition. Cabinets, desks, a damaged harp, an overstuffed armchair - the relics of a lost life of affluence he's finally come to sell. But when his brother Walter, who he hasn't spoken to in years, arrives, the talk stops being just about whether Victor's been offered a fair price for the furniture, and turns to the price that one and not the other of them paid when their father lost both his fortune and the will to go on ...

Fraught, but cut through with humour, The Price is one of Arthur Miller's finest plays.

Death of a Salesman

Arthur Miller

Arthur Miller's extraordinary masterpiece, Death of a Salesman changed the course of modern theatre, and has lost none of its power as an examination of American life.

'A man is not an orange. You can't eat the fruit and throw the peel away'

Willy Loman is on his last legs. Failing at his job, dismayed at his the failure of his sons, Biff and Happy, to live up to his expectations, and tortured by his jealousy at the success and happiness of his neighbour Charley and his son Bernard, Willy spirals into a well of regret, reminiscence, and A scathing indictment of the ultimate failure of the American dream, and the empty pursuit of wealth and success, is a harrowing journey. In creating Willy Loman, his destructively insecure anti-hero, Miller defined his aim as being 'to set forth what happens when a man does not have a grip on the forces of life'.

The Crucible

Arthur Miller

Arthur Miller's classic parable of mass hysteria draws a chilling parallel between the Salem witch-hunt of 1692 - 'one of the strangest and most awful chapters in human history' - and the American anti-communist purges led by Senator McCarthy in the 1950s. The story of how the small community of Salem is stirred into madness by superstition, paranoia and malice, culminating in a violent climax, is a savage attack on the evils of mindless persecution and the terrifying power of false accusations.

A depiction of innocent men and women destroyed by malicious rumour, The Crucible is also a powerful indictment of McCarthyism and the 'frontier mentality' of Cold War America.

Arthur Miller

Biography

American dramatist Arthur Miller was born in New York City in 1915. In 1938 Miller won awards for his comedy The Grass Still Grows. His major achievement was Death of a Salesman, which won the 1949 Pulitzer Prize for drama and the 1949 New York Drama Critics' Circle Award. The Crucible was aimed at the widespread congressional investigation of subversive activities in the US; the drama won the 1953 Tony Award. Miller's autobiography, Timebends: A Life was published in 1987.

Author image © Corbis