The McCarthy purges were a
disgraceful blot on the national record of any nation aspiring to free
speech, and are still, evidently, a matter of passionate concern.
When Elia Kazan, who sang like a bird, was awarded a lifetime Oscar 40 years
later, many in Hollywood made it plain that his betrayal was a matter of the
Still, there is something naive and faintly bizarre about Miller’s
much-admired response to the McCarthy period, The Crucible, comparing
the communist hunt to the 17th-century witch hunt. As Kazan’s wife pointed
out, the difference was that there really were communists. It was
disgraceful to pursue people for their political views, but it was absurd to
suggest that the political views were dreamt up in bouts of mass hysteria,
like the accusation of witchcraft.– Philip Hensher (Telegraph)
Arthur Miller lived for some 50 years after his greatest literary successes, though I have taught (and will teach again this spring) his 2002 play Resurrection Blues.