Arthur Miller: The Price and the Dust of a Life

Interview with Arthur Miller
Conducted by James Grissom
Hotel Carlyle
New York City

There is anger and passion and love--and sometimes these three things are very much alike; often the same--in the writing of anything. Writing is a means of recovering and also of avenging. Words become the hooks by which you reach out to reclaim people and times and emotions.

I wrote The Price when I was in my fifties, which seemed very old to me then. It seems sunny and limber and free to me now, but I think a lot of us felt very much older in that time. The country was asking a lot of tough questions about itself. There were riots and demonstrations and people were in classrooms, realizing that a great deal of what they'd been told at their father's knee was demonstrably false.

I wrote The Price in an attempt to answer the question: What am I worth? What do I leave? Will I be remembered? Tennessee kept asking if he mattered, and we all do. I do. Those people in this play [The Price] are haggling over things that float above or reside beside the real subjects, because it is very difficult to ask directly what one's worth might be.

In the end--at our end--there is a pile of residue and memory over which others will visit and bargain and seek and moan. What will they find? What will they see of themselves in the dust of a life?

© 2017  James Grissom


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