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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.
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.
The characters are one dimensional. The plot is weaved with self pity. The story has no real purpose. It's a bit disheartening hearing the praise it has gotten trough the years. Read morePublished on Aug. 16 2011 by Melanie
This play blew me away when I read it some ten years ago. And the same thing happened when I saw it on Broadway as a revival many years ago. Read morePublished on Feb. 7 2005 by Starkweather,
This play blew me away when I read it some ten years ago. And the same thing happend when I saw it on Broadway as a revival many years ago. Read morePublished on May 24 2004
Money and materialism are strong themes in Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman". One gets a real sense of this from beginning to end. Read morePublished on March 25 2004 by I ain't no porn writer
Arthur Miller's play "Death of a Salesman" has become a repudiation of socialism/communism. Miller intended the play as anti-capitalist propaganda, but failed. Read morePublished on Feb. 8 2004 by Rex Curry
Arthur Miller's play "Death of a Salesman" has become a repudiation of socialism/communism. Miller intended the play as anti-capitalist propaganda, but failed. Read morePublished on Feb. 7 2004 by Rex Curry