Death of a Salesman: Certain Private Conversations in Two Acts and a Requiem (Penguin Modern Classics)

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9780141182742: Death of a Salesman: Certain Private Conversations in Two Acts and a Requiem (Penguin Modern Classics)
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Arthur Miller's extraordinary masterpiece, Death of a Salesman changed the course of modern theatre, and has lost none of its power as an examination of American life.

'A man is not an orange. You can't eat the fruit and throw the peel away'

Willy Loman is on his last legs. Failing at his job, dismayed at his the failure of his sons, Biff and Happy, to live up to his expectations, and tortured by his jealousy at the success and happiness of his neighbour Charley and his son Bernard, Willy spirals into a well of regret, reminiscence, and A scathing indictment of the ultimate failure of the American dream, and the empty pursuit of wealth and success, is a harrowing journey. In creating Willy Loman, his destructively insecure anti-hero, Miller defined his aim as being 'to set forth what happens when a man does not have a grip on the forces of life'.

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Review:

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' 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, Amazon.com

Review:

"By common consent, this is one of the finest dramas in the whole range of the American theater." Brooks Atkinson, "The New York Times" "So simple, central, and terrible that the run of playwrights would neither care nor dare to attempt it." "Time""

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780140481341: Death of a Salesman: Certain Private Coversations in Two Acts And a Requiem (Penguin Plays)

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ISBN 10:  0140481346 ISBN 13:  9780140481341
Publisher: Penguin, 1981
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9780822202905: Death of a Salesman (Acting Edition for Theater Productions)

Josef ..., 2002
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9781985849617: Death of a Salesman

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9780141180977: Death of a Salesman: Certain Private Conversations in Two Acts and a Requiem (Penguin twentieth-century classics)

Pengui..., 1998
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