Death of a Salesman: Certain Private Conversations in Two Acts and a Requiem

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Penguin Books, 1999 - Drama - 142 pages
All his life Willy Loman has been a travelling salesman, who made a decent living--but not more. Dreams and evasions have kept him from seeing himself as he is. He has learned the American go-getter philosophy by heart, and passed it on to his sons, to their undoing. And then, at sixty-three, finally forced to face reality, Willy turns away, down the only road open to him. Out of this simple human situation, Arthur Miller has fashioned one of the greatest dramas of our time. Death of a Salesman opened at Broadway's Morosco Theatre on February 10, 1949. Under the direction of Elia Kazan, Lee J. Cobb brought Willy Loman to life in a now-legendary production. Instantly acclaimed a modern classic, the play took New York by storm. Within a week tickets had to be printed for performances a year in advance. Now, fifty years after its New York debut, Death of a Salesman is back on Broadway, and Arthur Miller's masterpiece continues to thrive--not only as a permanent contribution to our national literature, but as a moving and vital ongoing presence on the American stage today. WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE WINNER OF THE DRAMA CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD

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Death of a salesman: certain private conversations in two acts and a requiem

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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 ... Read full review

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About the author (1999)

The son of a well-to-do New York Jewish family, Miller graduated from high school and then went to work in a warehouse. He was born on October 17, 1915, in Harlem, New York City. His plays have been called "political," but he considers the areas of literature and politics to be quite separate and has said, "The only sure and valid aim---speaking of art as a weapon---is the humanizing of man." The recurring theme of all his plays is the relationship between a man's identity and the image that society demands of him. After two years, he entered the University of Michigan, where he soon started writing plays. All My Sons (1947), a Broadway success that won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award in 1947, tells the story of a son, home from the war, who learns that his brother's death was due to defective airplane parts turned out by their profiteering father. Death of a Salesman (1949), Miller's experimental yet classical American tragedy, received both the Pulitzer Prize and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award in 1949. It is a poignant statement of a man facing himself and his failure. In The Crucible (1953), a play about bigotry in the Salem witchcraft trials of 1692, Miller brings into focus the social tragedy of a society gone mad, as well as the agony of a heroic individual. The play was generally considered to be a comment on the McCarthyism of its time. Miller himself appeared before the Congressional Un-American Activities Committee and steadfastly refused to involve his friends and associates when questioned about them. His screenplay for The Misfits (1961), from his short story, was written for his second wife, actress Marilyn Monroe (see Vol. 3); After the Fall (1964) has clear autobiographical overtones and involves the story of this ill-fated marriage as well as further dealing with Miller's experiences with McCarthyism. In the one-act Incident at Vichy (1964), a group of men are picked off the streets one morning during the Nazi occupation of France. The Price (1968) is a psychological drama concerning two brothers, one a police officer, one a wealthy surgeon, whose long-standing conflict is explored over the disposal of their father's furniture. The Creation of the World and Other Business (1973) is a retelling of the story of Genesis, attempted as a comedy. The American Clock (1980) explores the impact of the Depression on the nation and its individual citizens. Among Miller's most recent works is Danger: Memory! (1987), a study of two elderly friends. During the 1980s, almost all of Miller's plays were given major British revivals, and the playwright's work has been more popular in Britain than in the United States of late. Miller died of heart failure after a battle against cancer, pneumonia and congestive heart disease at his home in Roxbury, Connecticut. He was 89 years old.

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