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Death of a Salesman (Penguin Plays) Paperback – October 28, 1976
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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 the Hardcover edition.
From Library Journal
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
~Salesman~ is about many things. It is a tragedy about the collapse of the notion that personal success is measured by one's financial prosperity. Willy Loman's tragedy is really two-fold: the need of most people to make a 'mark' in their lives either through financial success or merely being loved by one's friends and family. In the end, Loman comes to realize his son Biff loves him; however, ironically, this realization only propounds his material failure which consequently, leads to his final attempt at 'success', ending in his tragic suicide.
This superlative play is a dramatic lesson in the individual tragedy of a man pursuing materialistic success at the expense of the higher values of personal, emotional growth and fulfillment that can only be achieved by truly knowing oneself.
~Salesman~ is a moralistic play. It teaches us that Willy Loman is Everyman. We're all part of a system that pushes the lie that materialism measures the worth of people, but to exclude basic human values, knowledge, community, and love, is to court disaster, and in poor Willy Loman's case, self destruction.
This play is the great American tragedy and a valuable lesson for us all.
The story is about a broken-hearted salesman, Willy Loman. He is a man no longer living in the real world but is mostly trapped in his own delusional world. He can't let go of the past no matter how hard he tries, and it's eating him up inside. He wants to believe that his family is a shoe-in for greatness, no matter how lonely and sad his wife is, or how much of a player/swinger his youngest son is, or how confused and anti-business his oldest son is. You put all of this together and you get a glimpse of an American tragedy that is so powerful and sad that it makes you think these things happen all the time. From Page 1 you know it's not going to end on a happy note, but you decide to take the path anyways. And a path worth taking it is.
I admit that I was confused at certain points, because through the text alone it is very hard to separate Willy's reality from his imagination. There are places where Willy departs from reality and goes back to the past and it makes it very hard for us to figure out what is going on if we're only reading it. When I saw the movie version after reading this, I was able to appreciate the play more. I understood what confused me and I was able to figure out what was happening.Read more ›
The play is one of the quintessential pieces of modern American theater. Its themes are known and have been expounded endlessly. Why is it still fresh? I have never watched it on stage nor screen. I have known it for ages, but could not find enough interest to look for a performance, nor to read it. Now LoA does it.
Looking at the reviews here on the Penguin modern classic page, I am wondering about the spread in reviews. From 5 to 1 stars all is there, with a downward slope towards the negative votes. The play has more friends than foes, but on an absolute level, the nays would sink an ordinary ship. Of course quality questions are not decided by democracy. One particularly daft observer produced a perfect inverted version of cultural Stalinism. With perfect perverted logic, he tells us that only positive depictions of the American dream are acceptable. That is completely in line with 'socialist realism': if the artist fails to enthuse about the reigning system, he is condemned.
Thanks to LoA for making me get to know the man Miller. I will definitely look for a movie version or go to a play if I find an opportunity.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
what can I say?! this is a classic! great book. it came to me in perfect condition, which is always a plus. I am very pleased with this purchase all around! Read morePublished 7 days ago by Erica Dye
Read this book in high school, now I own a copy because my boyfriend needed one for a class.Published 9 days ago by Ashlyn Gagne
So depressing. I mean it is just the most hopeless situation a family could be in. Dark, dark, dark!Published 3 months ago by Lighthouse Keeper
This was also needed for my class studies but I ended up enjoying it more than I thought I would. I appreciate the quick shipping.Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
Among the best books that I read so far for this year. It's plot broke my heart to pieces.Published 4 months ago by Jenice Y. Wright
It is a fantastic story that I have enjoyed reading. Would absolutely recommend it to friends and family to read.Published 4 months ago by Lisa Lobley