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Timebends: A Life

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  484 ratings  ·  50 reviews
Telling his life story with humor and passion--displaying throughout the largeness of spirit that has made him one of the most admired writers this country has ever produced--Miller recalls his boyhood, his education, the formation of his political outlook, his career successes and failures, and the remarkable variety of people, both obscure and famous, in his life.
Paperback, 614 pages
Published December 31st 1995 by Penguin Group (first published November 1st 1987)
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Elizabeth Periale

"In Timebends Miller writes about her poetically enough, but Marilyn, his conception of Marilyn, rarely comes across as a real person. She is still a muse to his words, almost thirty years after their break-up and her death. Perhaps that is all she really ever was to him."
Pauline  Butcher Bird
Jun 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
The trouble with autobiographies is that only part of most people's lives is interesting. So it is here. I wanted to read about Marilyn Monroe but we get only small parts out of two chapters. Miller glosses over the breakup of his first marriage and the formation of his relationship with the most famous sex-goddess of the 20th century. You have to piece together in your own mind how and why she married a dry, not particularly attractive man, or indeed why he took the major step to marry her. The ...more
Mar 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
Arthur Miller has a unique perspective on the twentieth century, because, well, he is Arthur Miller. He took McCarthyism by the balls. He singlehandedly congealed a major part of the consciousness about the twentieth century American anti-hero through the image of Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman. Oh, and he married Marilyn Monroe.

Miller's grasp on prose is not like his flawlessly balanced plays, but it has a genius of its own. Sprawling, informative, non-linear, almost like an old man telling
Rik Booraem
Oct 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A single word to describe this book might be "honest." Miller looks back over his life as celebrated playwright, New York leftist, serious artist looking for important material, but also married man looking for love and understanding, and tries to analyze why he made the decisions that he did, also why things turned out as they did despite his objections. We learn a lot that is intensely believable about Broadway, Hollywood, Marilyn Monroe, the climate of politics during and after World War II. ...more
Gordon Prescott
Mar 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
Timebends by Arthur Miller is a long-winded autobiography that incoherently jumps back and forth. I struggled to get to the good stuff about his landmark plays Death of a Salesman, The Crucible, All my Sons, etc. The overwriting poetic language becomes tiresome after a hundred pages. I skipped over long passages that held little interest to me.
Mike Roberts
Feb 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Over the last decade I’ve become a big fan of Arthur Miller’s plays, to the point that he’s probably my favourite playwright. I’ve also watched the movie that he wrote - The Misfits.

This was a fascinating memoir to me for various reasons. Firstly, Miller lived in Manhattan and Brooklyn (my adopted home) until his thirties and to read first hand experience of middle-class pre-depression Jewish Harlem on the north side of Central Park; through poor mid Brooklyn post-depression a couple of miles fr
Mar 27, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I have to say I was pretty mortified by how much I disliked this book. I was excited to read it because I knew nothing about Arthur Miller except of the fact that he wrote my favorite pay and was married to Marilyn Monroe. I figured an autobiography from such a great writer would be endlessly fascinating. Instead, I found this book plodding, and incredibly boring. I still no nothing about Arthur Miller! I bounces around with no discernible pattern, there is little to know information about the a ...more
Timothy Dymond
Feb 09, 2015 rated it liked it
Arthur Miller is one of those writers whose massive output means you have read and seen more of his stuff than you think you have. E.g. I've seen productions of 'The Crucible', but I didn't realise that he wrote the first draft of what became 'On the Waterfront' (the final version was written by Bud Schulberg).

Miller has his artistic origins in the New York left-wing literati set that included Clifford Odets, Lillian Helman, Dashell Hammat and (for a little while) Elia Kazan. His relationship w
Jennifer B.
Nov 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
It took me a long time to get through this, which wasn't a bad thing. What an interesting life Arthur Miller led, and not just because he happened to marry Marilyn Monroe. A true intellectual despite his humble roots, this man really knew everyone: actors, artists, musicians, directors, producers, photographers, politicians, veterans, and of course, other writers.

Miller doesn't just give you the story of his life, he gives you the story of the twentieth century. I felt I received quite the educa
Apr 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
I felt in the company of a 'big man' reading this, i am a slow reader, as slow as I talk and with Millers style of writing I had to re-read many sentences and paragraphs, in my meticulous craftsmans manner I wanted to leave nothing out.

It was a privelige to hear of decades past and all the problems that went with it. I originally bought this book twenty years ago but only got to page one hundred, now being older it holds me far more, what seemed a strange play such as 'Salesman' now seems very
Feb 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Great autobiography by one of the best playrights In American theater. If you like his works than you'll enjoy this. ...more
T.P. Williams
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
Wow - turgid, verbose, circumlocutory memoir from the great playwright. At 600 pages a real heavy lift to finish. Author seemingly incapable of writing a simple declarative sentence. Frequently interjects "I think" or, even more annoyingly, "I suppose" into long sentences. Why? A good editor could easily have shortened this book by 50-75 pages.
I do not find fault, as others have, with the apparent lack of a chronological timeline. It's Miller's memoir and he can write it his way. Best parts were
Nov 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The art of theatre is something I am not familiar with as I have not even seen a play since my student years, and even then only because of cheap standby tickets. So when Arthur Miller's biography was recommended by a friend, I was sceptical that I would find anything of interest and reluctantly made a start (8 months ago!). As it turns out, this was quite an informative, educational and enjoyable read, so much so that I found myself rationing the chapters to make it last longer.

Miller does not
Having scattered my reading across many months, I've finally come to a close!

Arthur Miller stood for freedom of speech and was always vocal about the oppression going on in the world. Choosing the hard way, he fought both the American government and leaders of other countries in an attempt to let writers be writers and humans be humans, independently of political agendas.

There are many times the "such were the times" expression is used by Miller to describe the actions taken against him in a pas
Oct 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: biographyhistory
I read this in high school.

The only thing I knew about Arthur Miller at the time was the he was the author of "The Crucible" and "Death of Salesman".

The part I remember the most was his description of writing "Death of A Salesman". His description was rather vivid.

But, like many books I read in high school, I now realize that I probably didn't understand 90% of the it because I was simply too young.

After all, he was 70 years old when this was published and he spends a lot of time describing the
Liz Smith
Nov 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I cannot praise this memoir highly enough for its breadth of an entire lifetime and its excellent writing and insights into 20th century American life and his own personal life. Arthur Miller was one of our best playwrights (Death of a Salesmen, All My Sons, A View From the Bridge, The Crucible), but he was celebrated for having stood up to the HUAC in 1956 and for marrying the impossible-to-live with Marilyn Monroe. I have laughed out loud as well as been in awe of Arthur Miller's humor and iro ...more
Barbara Rubin
Mar 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
Timebends by Arthur Miller is a long-winded autobiography that incoherently jumps back and forth. I struggled to get to the good stuff about his landmark plays Death of a Salesman, The Crucible, All my Sons, etc. The overwriting poetic language becomes tiresome after a hundred pages. I skipped over long passages that held little interest to me.
Time bends. Yes it does. Warps, weaves, waves, wriggles. A very interesting book. Miller appears to be the suave, moderate, calm thinker throughout. It will be interesting to consider other perspectives. In particular, he seems to leave wives behind like many of us overtake slow-moving traffic. The more recent years are more skeletal than the distant past. All that aside, I did enjoy the book.
Dec 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
This took me a while to read. It was one of those read for a few days, put down for a month or two, pick back up.

Regardless, Arthur Miller writes some very personal anecdotes recalling his life. He’s my favorite playwright and now having understood a little more about his background, I understand his plays on a more personal level.
I enjoyed reading about this interesting man, who wrote The Crucible and Death of a Salesman. His insight into himself and others around him was entertaining. And I enjoyed seeing pieces of history from his point of view. It was worth my time.
Aug 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book and interesting look at the world and politics of time Arthur Miller lived. Lots of great observations of the long-term effects of the black-listing of the 50's and the Vietnam war after that. ...more
May 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
An interesting insight into a turbulent era, with no unwanted details of his sexual relationship with Monroe. Makes me want to be a playwright!
Tom Schulte
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While this was published in 1989, it really ends in the late 60s with Miller's involvement with PEN and draws a curtain over his family life in Connecticut with photographer Inge Morath, who he married in February 1962. The meat of this autobiography is professional and artistic development from U of M and NYC dock workers before the plays: Death of a Salesman, The Crucible foreshadowing his haunting by HUAC and the growth of A View from one-act to full, successful play. Of course, much is given ...more
Dec 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It took me four months to read this voluminous autobiography of one of the greatest literary figures of the world who spanned the entire 20th century, but the journey was worth every page. He was born in 1915 and died in 2005; so in a way it is also the history of 20th century America, starting from its pre-Depression era, the influx of European migrants to US in search of better livelihoods, the Great Depression of the 30s, waterfront unionism backed by the Mob, the rise of Fascism, coping with ...more
Joe Mossa
Sep 01, 2007 rated it liked it
i love reading of writers writing but he nevers tells us when or why he chose to become a writer. i loved marilyn monroe as a teen,my first love. i can t wait till he writes of her. he began to write of her on pg 308 with much more to come. the, waiting for marilyn part, is motivating me to read on through the deep thinking of arthur miller.
it was very slow in parts especially the part about his presidency of PEN,the international writers organization. it was fascinating to hear of the roots
Dec 30, 2007 rated it liked it
The experience of reading this book is kind of like sitting down and having someone tell you story after story of their life. My Dad used to do that. And it made me miss him. I learned quite a bit reading this book. Especially regarding Marxism and the 30's. How it came to be popular and the aftermath. Mr. Miller had so much pain in his life. Marilyn Monroe was a tragic lady. The book is 600 pages and the last 100 pages I found myself fidgety and wanting it all to end. The same thing would happe ...more
Ian Banks
May 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Mr Miller is not one of my favourite writers but this would have to be one of my favourite books: he is brilliant on life between the wars and how it affected people, especially when compounded by the Depression. He talks very little about writing but what he says is fascinating. The style he uses in retelling his life is great: he starts on one topic, digresses onto a related tangent then goes back to the original subject and quite often digresses to another tangent for an epilogue. Always inte ...more
Mar 15, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
did you know that arthur miller was once married to marilyn monroe? did you know that he was a prominent player in fighting of mcarthyism and was once good friends with elia kazan, only to have that friendship destroyed by kazan dragging miller's name in during a congressional hearing? pretty incredible life that explains the origins of his ethos.
Picked up a first edition tonight at the closing month sale at Skyline Books in NYC. Just this morning I read an article that quotes the book, for the hundredth time. It'll be a good reference to finally read this year. Wish the old fellow was still around to say interesting things. ...more
Henry Wright
Feb 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
A marvelous autobiography by an extraordinary artist. His account of his relationship with Marilyn grew tiresome. So much analysis when there must have been so much passion and so much pain. I felt he was avoiding the primal truth and had to push myself through to the end. Nonetheless, a giant among men.
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Arthur Asher Miller was an American playwright and essayist. He was a prominent figure in American literature and cinema for over 61 years, writing a wide variety of plays, including celebrated plays such as The Crucible, A View from the Bridge, All My Sons, and Death of a Salesman, which are still studied and performed worldwide. Miller was often in the public eye, most famously for refusing to g ...more

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