“I generally work because I am struck by something that someone has said. Playwriting is an oral art; it’s not an art of a writer expecting to be read but a writer expecting to be heard. And so I think that if I hear a character speaking, either one I’ve invented or one I’ve confronted, it starts a process of creating which I can’t control or even describe properly. If I could describe it I probably wouldn’t do it.”
Marilyn was a kind of touchstone for writers. Unsure of her own identity, she identified with others. She was warmly responsive to those who showed an interest in her, and the best authors appreciated her human qualities. The Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov was as handsome and sophisticated as Nikita Khrushchev was coarse and crude. He met Marilyn at a Hollywood party while he was working on the screenplay of Lolita in the spring of 1960, and examined her as if she were one of his exquisite butterflies. Stacy Schiff wrote that “in Vladimir’s recollection, ‘She was gloriously pretty, all bosom and rose’—and holding the hand of [her current lover] Yves Montand. Monroe took a liking to Vladimir, inviting the [Nabokovs] to a dinner, which they did not attend.
This special issue pays tribute to a University of Michigan alumnus. In advance of the 50th anniversary (in February of 1999) of his most famous play, Death of a Salesman, this 300+ page issue illuminates Miller’s life and work from a variety of perspectives.