Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller: a love story | Daily News

Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller: a love story

Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe
Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe

Though not strictly defined or conceptually interpreted in any conventional form, the genre known as autobiography is a self expression of a lifetime’s experiences and encounters. Similar forms are known popularly as portrayals, profiles and biographies and autobiography takes the form of either a chronicle or a narrative pattern. The autobiography of the well known playwright and creative writer Arthur Miller (1915 - 2005), though a bulky volume running to 814 pages, is one of the most unputdownable autobiographies I read over the years.

Titled as Timebends, the work is segmented into eight long episodes, which are linked to each other by the narrator with readable situations packed with encounters with persons in the literary world, politics as well as in the film and theatre scene underlying sensitive portrayals of events and trends.

Ibsenite ideology

As far as possible, he tries to unveil some of the so far unstated episodes linked to the creative process of some of the well known plays like All My Sons, A View from the Bridge, The Crucible, Death of a Salesman and the well known novel Misfits which was transformed into a cinework with his wife Marilyn Monroe. It was Arthur Miller who adapted Henrik Ibsen’s An Anemey of the People, which too created a certain degree of a stir when original Ibsenite ideology was twisted by editing the last two acts into a single episode.

This was the Millerian expression given to Ibsen’s celebrated work, which I had the chance of translating and producing for the undergraduates at the University of Kelaniya.

The autobiography does not underline a special seat of learning from which he acquired the creative and literary spirit. Instead, the reader feels that from the schooling days, he had been attracted by the various types of literary groups and libraries. He notes that the human encounters of varying types had paved the way for him to be a playwright and a screenplay writer. He had had been sensitively inspired by his mother who had more creative plans and the grandfather who had been fond of storytelling.

From his young days, Miller had been a keen observer on social matters such as war, violence, social discrimination and racial issues. The two places that he had most frequented happen to be Harlem and Brooklyn. He had sensitively observed the exodus of Jews from the terror of Nazism and the emergence of the World War I. Then comes the social discrimination of Blacks. All these inclusive of slavery has resulted in his creation of such plays as Crucible and Incident at Vichy, both envelop the racial issues which had had a tremendous impact on the political ideology in the US as well as the UK.

Marilyn- Millar legend

Some of the incidents as recorded by Miller depicts that he had been victimised by the social order in which he lived. He had once fearlessly faced a trial on such matters. He looks more independent-minded.

Though quite a lot of information is given in popular press as regards the Marilyn –Miller romance, Miller, the creative writer of his own experiences lay bare the human side of the marriage and divorce. Perhaps not discolouring the image of Marilyn. As a reader, I felt the sensitivity of Miller in the creation of the two works, The Misfits and After the Fall a play that envelops the Marilyn- Millar legend, where the inner layer of expression is the most vibrant verve of expression. Miller is more prophetic and visionary in his outlook on matters such as marriage and morals.

As a reader, I was moved by the following lines:

“Glamour is a youth’ form of blindness that lets in light incoherent colour, but nothing defined. Like the rainbow, it is a once-uplifting vision that moves away the closer you come to it.”

At one point Miller says that: “One learns very early that books had to be respected, they were all putative Bibles and to some small degree had a share in holiness.” There had been lessons that he had learned in the process of reading books. So he states: “When I laid an open book face down, my brother would reprimand me, like a person, a book had a spine that could be broken.”

Lively moments

Miller in his early childhood had been inspired by the works of Dickens, which had come to this house via the children’s encyclopaedia known to the world as Book of Knowledge. As the reader goes on knowing more and more about the wide range of experiences, his encounters of with contemporaries emerge as lively moments.

They include celebrities such as Bertolt Brecht, Tennessee Williams, Fernando Arrable, James Baldwin, Harold Pinter, Saul Bellow, Elia Kaan and Laurence Olivier. He had been instrumental in the promotion and foundation of the international PEN, a branch of which was forme din Sri Lanka too by the pioneer effort on the part of late Professor Ediriweera Sarachchandra, I am not too sure whether PEN (meant for the right of Publishers, Editors and Novelists) still exists.

Timebends a Life for the reader ought to give the feelings that it is not a mere autobiography, but a chronicle of our time written in with an open mind and with a meditative mood. The 90 years of his life spent in the world of arts is an epitome of inspiration.



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