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Death of a Salesman Paperback – Oct 28 1976


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; First Thus 32nd Printing edition (Oct. 28 1976)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140481346
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140481341
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 0.8 x 19.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 45 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (144 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #45,991 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

Arthur Miller's 1949 Death of a Salesman has sold 11 million copies, and Willy Loman didn't make all those sales on a smile and a shoeshine. This play is the genuine article--it's got the goods on the human condition, all packed into a day in the life of one self-deluded, self-promoting, self-defeating soul. It's a sturdy bridge between kitchen-sink realism and spectral abstraction, the facts of particular hard times and universal themes. As Christopher Bigsby's mildly interesting afterword in this 50th-anniversary edition points out (as does Miller in his memoir, Timebends), Willy is closely based on the playwright's sad, absurd salesman uncle, Manny. But of course Miller made Manny into Everyman, and gave him the name of the crime commissioner Lohmann in Fritz Lang's angst-ridden 1932 Nazi parable, The Testament of Dr. Mabuse.

The tragedy of Loman the all-American dreamer and loser works eternally, on the page as on the stage. A lot of plays made history around 1949, but none have stepped out of history into the classic canon as Salesman has. Great as it was, Tennessee Williams's work can't be revived as vividly as this play still is, all over the world. (This edition has edifying pictures of Lee J. Cobb's 1949 and Brian Dennehy's 1999 performances.) It connects Aristotle, The Great Gatsby, On the Waterfront, David Mamet, and the archetypal American movie antihero. It even transcends its author's tragic flaw of pious preachiness (which undoes his snoozy The Crucible, unfortunately his most-produced play).

No doubt you've seen Willy Loman's story at least once. It's still worth reading. --Tim Appelo --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This 50th-anniversary edition of Miller's masterpiece, which certainly is a contender for the finest American drama of the 20th century, includes the full text of the play, a chronology of its productions, photos from various stagings including the current Broadway revival, and a new preface by Miller himself, all in a quality hardcover for a reasonable price. Bravo, Penguin.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sam on May 20 2009
Format: Paperback
Death Of A Salesman by Arthur Miller was written in 1949 and changed what tragedy meant. Instead of the usual fall of a man in a high position, it was about Willy Loman, a small man. The play is centered on conversation that is mostly dull. The most interesting part of it is seeing the wrong beliefs of Willy that he instils in his two boys, Biff and Happy, which greatly affect their lives in the future. Willy's interpretation of manliness and the American Dream are also the features that make this play great.

Willy Loman, 60, has been working as a salesman for many years. The company that he has been working for has taken him off a salary and placed him on commission. He hasn't been able to sell anything and is resorting to borrowing money from his only friend. His two children, Biff and Happy, are unable to help Willy pay for his mortgage and expenses. Willy feels that it his duty to provide for his family, and being unable to do so lowers his manliness.

What has happened to Biff and Happy that has made them as they are as adults? How will Willy, who is seeing hallucinations, react to his loss of manliness? How did growing up without a father or brother affect Willy? What are Willy's motives for what he does? Does Willy's belief in success as a result of being well-liked work? What dreams do the two brothers choose to follow in the end? What does `free' mean in the ending?

3/5
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bill R. Moore on May 1 2004
Format: Paperback
One of the most popular and famous plays of post-O'Neill theater, Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman is the playwright's masterpiece and a true classic not only of American drama, but also of American literature as a whole. Though it came out in the late 1940's, its universal applicability has endured throughout the ensuing decades and the play still has much to tell us today. As has been noted, 20th century American drama tended to focus primarily on the family. The family presented in Death of a Salesman -- like the families in Tennessee William's The Glass Menagerie and Cat On a Hot Tin Roof -- is, in many ways, the prototypical American family, although many would not like to admit it. Salesman's dysfunctional family preceded the rosier, harmonious families that would come to dominate 50's television; it doesn't take a prophet or even a sociologist to determine which of the two is more true-to-life. In the Loman family, we can see much of ourselves and our families -- even if it is the parts that we would rather not think about and focus on. The play also deals with the capitalist system as it stood in the middle of the 20th century; most agree that, to the extent that it has changed since then, it has only been for the worse. Willy Loman, the play's main character and the prototypical Everyman, is a victim of the dog-eat-dog world of business that is a true manifestation of "survival of the fittest": good times are forgotten; nobody cares what one has done in the past: all that matters is, What have you done for me lately? The play shows how a man -- and yes, a man: the play was written in the 1940's, after all...Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
This book/play was a good read, with a lot of lessons to pull from it. Your situation in life defines what lessons you will most likely pull, but all in all, most everyone can gain something. It was close to modern times, with a lot of insights into modern problems.
When Arthur Miller wrote this, he was trying to give a view into the business world. He was trying to show America as whole just how cruel the business world had gotten, how it would chew you up and spit you out when it was through with you, and how things had gotten very cold. This was shown in the scene with Willy Lowman getting fired. One thing he screams is," You can't eat an orange and throw the peel away! A man is not a piece of fruit!". This is so true, but it is also how the business world treats people.
Miller also shed some light on how a man had more duties to his family than just to put bread on the table and a roof over their heads, how sometimes they needed a husband and a dad more than anything. After all, Willy worked his whole life to provide his sons with clothes and food and things, but in the end, what they could really have used was a dad at home more often to teach them morals and work ethic. Biff and Happy had trouble finding themselves in life because from the time they were young, Willy had worked very hard to give them everything, they hadn't had to go out and get it themselves. All Willy ever taught them was to be liked, and that that was enough to get you through. This backfired on the two boys when they hit the real world and found out it wasn't enough just to be liked; you had to have more.
Personally, I learned that living your whole life on what others think of you can only lead you to feeling empty.
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By Kristan on Jan. 14 2004
Format: Paperback
Death of a Salesman is a very practical, yet somewhat disheartening play on the true importance on what life is about. I think that Willy had a very twisted look on what the American life and dream should be. Willy's main goal in life was to be "well liked" to be remembered and highly respected. He pushed and strived for utter and instant success, also thrusting for his sons to be proficient in this way and in a short time period. He relied heavily on people, for petty reasons, to be raised to a higher position because of his former accomplishments. His concentration was set so decisively to the standards of everyone else in his life, that he forgot the people most essential to him, his family.
He was so guilt ridden of his past that he couldn't bare to handle the future of responsibility. He made foolish mistakes based on immediate pleasure because of his lack of perseverance and commitment in his childhood. Throughout the entire episode of his last fifteen years he is constantly fighting the reality of his consequences to the choices he made. He relentlessly enfolds himself in guilt and despair but lacks the initiative to become decisive in decisions and confront the issues that are holding him back in his past. He takes refuge in and scuttles back to his imaginary haven of a life.
I think the main purpose of Arthur Miller's scenario in this play was to make the distinctive point of the frailty and impractical view of the American Dream. Willy struggles to fulfill his dream to be a respected businessman and have a perfect family. He only didn't understand that commitment is a big part of a family. His understanding of a true husband and a good father was deficient.
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