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Valet of the Dolls

Andrew O’Hagan: Sinatra, 24 July 2003

Mr S.: The Last Word on Frank Sinatra 
by George Jacobs and William Stadiem.
Sidgwick, 261 pp., £16.99, June 2003, 0 283 07370 5
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... maid writes, took the peroxide bottle to her pubic hair and never washed her sheets; meanwhile, Arthur Miller hid away in his study pretending to write a play in order to avoid his wife’s demands for arguments, babies and pizza. Rough stuff, but not that rough when compared to some of the more recent semi-penitents who rush to take up the pen as soon ...

Keeping Score

Ian Jackman: Joe DiMaggio, 10 May 2001

Joe DiMaggio: The Hero’s Life 
by Richard Ben Cramer.
Simon and Schuster, 560 pp., £20, April 2001, 0 684 85391 4
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... As soon as they got back from their honeymoon Monroe told a friend, ‘I’m going to marry Arthur Miller,’ and eventually she did. She left DiMaggio when he beat her up after she’d filmed the scene in The Seven-Year Itch where her dress is blown up over her head as she stands on a subway grate. Yet, almost incredibly, DiMaggio does not come ...

Tomorrow they’ll boo

John Simon: Strindberg, 25 October 2012

Strindberg: A Life 
by Sue Prideaux.
Yale, 371 pp., £25, February 2012, 978 0 300 13693 7
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... One might say that his was either the maddest form of sanity or the sanest form of madness. Arthur Miller called him ‘the mad inventor of modern theatre’, in a useful oversimplification. Carl Larsson’s portrait of Strindberg, on the book jacket, essentially in sepia but with rosy lips and penetratingly blue eyes (‘the most beautiful ...

Khrush in America

Andrew O’Hagan: Khrushchev in America, 8 October 2009

K Blows Top 
by Peter Carlson.
Old Street, 327 pp., £9.99, July 2009, 978 1 905847 30 3
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... lunch in the Twentieth Century Fox commissary. She passed on greetings from her husband, Arthur Miller, and later said: ‘he looked at me the way a man looks on a woman.’ The studio head Spyros Skouras took Khrushchev on with an argument about capitalism. Judy Garland wanted more drinks. Elizabeth Taylor said she wouldn’t have missed it for ...

Antigone on Your Knee

Terry Eagleton, 6 February 2020

A Cultural History of Tragedy: Vols I-VI 
edited by Rebecca Bushnell.
Bloomsbury Academic, 1302 pp., £395, November 2019, 978 1 4742 8814 9
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... and argue that there is indeed a stable core of attributes all the way from Aeschylus to Arthur Miller – some kind of affliction or distress. But this is such a soft essentialism that it doesn’t get us very far, and as Shylock and Malvolio might testify, there is affliction in comedy as well. If tragedy is an unstable word, then the issue ...

Mortal Beauty

Paul Delany, 21 May 1981

Feminine Beauty 
by Kenneth Clark.
Weidenfeld, 199 pp., £10, October 1980, 0 297 77677 0
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Of Women and their Elegance 
by Norman Mailer.
Hodder, 288 pp., £12.50, March 1981, 0 340 23920 4
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Nude Photographs 1850-1980 
edited by Constance Sullivan.
Harper and Row, 204 pp., £19.95, September 1981, 0 06 012708 2
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... that paid off handsomely, though Greene ended up with little profit when he was squeezed out by Arthur Miller. It was a time of crisis for Marilyn, when her marriage to Joe DiMaggio was breaking up and her affair with Miller beginning. In 1956 she converted to Judaism, married ...

Brooksie and Faust

Angela Carter, 8 March 1990

Louise Brooks 
by Barry Paris.
Hamish Hamilton, 640 pp., £20, February 1990, 0 241 12541 3
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... used to go out on the town together, bar-hopping, up to God knows what. Behaviour of Henry Miller buddies. But, however scabrous the circumstances, Brooks never lost a thoroughly un-Millerian elegance and self-irony and when she finally took up her pen and wrote, in her sixties and seventies, she wrote, not about life in the lower depths, but about her ...

How Utterly Depraved!

Deborah Friedell: What did Ethel know?, 1 July 2021

Ethel Rosenberg: A Cold War Tragedy 
by Anne Sebba.
Weidenfeld, 288 pp., £20, June, 978 0 297 87100 2
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... Parents magazine. She had another baby, Robert, took guitar lessons and saw a psychoanalyst, Saul Miller, three times a week. Decades ago, one of Ethel’s previous biographers, Ilene Philipson, interviewed Miller. He told her that Ethel was attracted to analysis because she ‘believed that her problems stemmed from her ...

Towards the Transhuman

James Atlas, 2 February 1984

The Oxford Companion to American Literature 
by James Hart.
Oxford, 896 pp., £27.50, November 1983, 0 19 503074 5
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The Modern American Novel 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Oxford, 209 pp., £9.95, April 1983, 0 19 212591 5
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The Literature of the United States 
by Marshall Walker.
Macmillan, 236 pp., £14, November 1983, 0 333 32298 3
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American Fictions 1940-1980: A Comprehensive History and Critical Valuation 
by Frederick Karl.
Harper and Row, 637 pp., £31.50, February 1984, 0 06 014939 6
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Hugging the Shore: Essays and Criticism 
by John Updike.
Deutsch, 919 pp., £21, January 1984, 0 233 97610 8
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... he offers up is fanciful, contrived. Like Marshall Walker’s dutiful assemblage of notecards (‘Arthur Miller studies the relation between society and the individual in terms of three clearly identifiable themes’), it assumes an orderly progression of influence, of decades and periods, of regional writers and schools and themes, of a ‘usable ...

Mendacious Flowers

Martin Jay: Clinton Baiting, 29 July 1999

All too Human: A Political Education 
by George Stephanopoulos.
Hutchinson, 456 pp., £17.99, March 1999, 0 09 180063 3
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No One Left to Lie to: The Triangulations of William Jefferson Clinton 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Verso, 122 pp., £12, May 1999, 1 85984 736 6
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... manifested during Monicagate. Hitchens ridicules the claim made by Toni Morrison and endorsed by Arthur Miller that because Clinton came from a broken home and had an alcoholic mother, he suffered from the same prejudices as those directed at blacks, and thus in some sense is ‘our first black President’. He knows that when Clinton, as Governor of ...


Stephen Walsh: Philip Glass, 7 May 2015

Words without Music: A Memoir 
by Philip Glass.
Faber, 416 pp., £22.50, April 2015, 978 0 571 32372 2
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... as well. He soon loses patience with the modern school of realist theatre represented by Chekhov, Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams: ‘We got rid of the things that were trivial, even nauseating, to us,’ he says, ‘which meant most of the content had to go.’ Content gives way to process, the how rather than the what. The enemy of serial music ...

I want my wings

Andrew O’Hagan: The Last Tycoons, 3 March 2016

West of Eden: An American Place 
by Jean Stein.
Cape, 334 pp., £20, February 2016, 978 0 224 10246 9
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... Stein speaks to the butlers and the chauffeurs, the studio wives, the bit-part players, to the Arthur Miller, Dennis Hopper and Gore Vidal part of the universe, and none of them lets her down, or lets her off. It is a wild compendium of stories about what it is to be a child in a world of childish adults, and her book feels political, a meditation on ...


Karl Miller: On Doubles, 2 May 1985

... to page 15 and lit on the magic words: ‘When he first saw how enchanted I was by this toy, Karl Miller was pleased.’ In the literature of romantic duality the most important of all pairs is the one constituted by the author and his principal character, or his narrator: here, if you like, is the primal duplication of the genre. In these fictions doubleness ...

Gaol Fever

David Saunders-Wilson, 24 July 1986

Prisons and the Process of Justice 
by Andrew Rutherford.
Oxford, 217 pp., £5.95, June 1986, 0 19 281932 1
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Growing out of Crime: Society and Young People in Trouble 
by Andrew Rutherford.
Penguin, 189 pp., £3.95, January 1986, 0 14 022383 5
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... acceptable, at least within the confines of our television sets, and as a result perhaps beyond. Arthur Daley and his ‘Minder’, for example, are commonly regarded as harmless, comic, lovable folk heroes, who can be forgiven even if they do sometimes wander onto the wrong side of the law, and get in trouble with ‘the Bill’. Indeed, both George Cole ...

St Marilyn

Andrew O’Hagan: The Girl and Me, 6 January 2000

The Personal Property of Marilyn Monroe 
Christie’s, 415 pp., $85, September 1999, 0 903432 64 1Show More
The Complete Marilyn Monroe 
by Adam Victor.
Thames and Hudson, 339 pp., £29.95, November 1999, 0 500 01978 9
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Marilyn Monroe 
by Barbara Leaming.
Orion, 474 pp., £8.99, October 1999, 0 7528 2692 1
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... seem to her to have wanted more for themselves than they did for Monroe. She may be right about Arthur Miller and the Actors’ Studio guru Lee Strasberg. The former, in his memoir Timebends, describes a girl who was beyond reach, and who seemed impossible to help. Yet his After the Fall shows him at his most self-justifying: Maggie (the Monroe ...

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