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Incident at Vichy: A Play Paperback – April 2, 1985

4.9 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Arthur Miller was born in New York City in 1915 and studied at the University of Michigan. His plays include All My Sons (1947), Death of a Salesman (1949), The Crucible (1953), A View from the Bridge and A Memory of Two Mondays (1955), After the Fall (1963), Incident at Vichy (1964), The Price (1968), The Creation of the World and Other Business (1972) and The American Clock. He has also written two novels, Focus (1945), and The Misfits, which was filmed in 1960, and the text for In Russia (1969), Chinese Encounters (1979), and In the Country (1977), three books of photographs by his wife, Inge Morath. More recent works include a memoir, Timebends (1987), and the plays The Ride Down Mt. Morgan (1991), The Last Yankee (1993), Broken Glass (1993), which won the Olivier Award for Best Play of the London Season, and Mr. Peter's Connections (1998). His latest book is On Politics and the Art of Acting. Miller was granted with the 2001 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He has twice won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, and in 1949 he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (April 2, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140481931
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140481938
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.2 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #743,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By RCM VINE VOICE on January 19, 2006
Format: Paperback
For many readers of Arthur Miller, "Incident at Vichy" may seem like a departure from his typical fare. Set in France during 1942, this one act play takes place in a detention room as nine men question their fate. These men and one fourteen-year-old boy were randomly pulled off the street; initially they believe that it is an identity check, to make sure there isn't anyone with false papers, but as they are assembled together, they soon realize there is something more sinister behind their detainment.

Thrown together are men from a variety of backgrounds - a painter, an electrician, a buisnessman, an actor, a doctor, a waiter, a Prince, a Gypsy and and old Jew. As they voice their questions and concerns, they soon come to realize that they are there on suspicion of being Jewish. One by one they are called into the interrogation room where they are either given a pass to freedom, or will be taken away to the terrible fates they are just now learning exist. None of these men wants to admit that they are or aren't Jewish which only adds to the tension as they argue and attempt to formulate a futile escape plan.

"Incident at Vichy" is a quick read filled with questions that are bigger than the play. Miller throws questions at the audience that do not necessarily have answers. The ending finds only two men left to be interviewed - the Austrian Prince who was disgusted when his countrymen embraced the Nazis, and the doctor who reveals that he is a Jew and in hiding. Their confrontation turns both of their worlds upside down and creates an ending with no resolution.
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Format: Paperback
In this stunning play, set in a holding room in Vichy, France, in 1942, Arthur Miller introduces nine men who have been picked up on suspicion that they are Jews or Jewish sympathizers. As they are called, one by one, to be interrogated by Nazi officials before being released or put on the thirty-car freight train waiting at the station, they reveal their thinking, their rationalizations for having been picked up, and their belief that this is all a big mistake. A German major involved in the interrogations also begins to question his own role, reminding his colleague, a professor in charge of carrying out Nazi racial policies, that he is a "line officer," not trained for his role.

Waiting to be questioned are an actor, a waiter, a businessman, a psychoanalyst, a Marxist railroad worker, a gypsy, an ancient Hasid, a fourteen-year-old boy, and an Austrian prince. As they talk and begin to share bits of information, Miller examines the tendency of ordinary men, who are often victims, to become immobilized when faced with "an atrocity...that is inconceivable," to refuse to believe that such behavior can possibly happen in a civilized world. At the same time, he also examines those others, the Nazis and their collaborators in France, who serve an ideology, not mankind, those who subordinate themselves so completely to an abstract concept that they believe "there are no persons anymore."

As the truth about the waiting train and its destination slowly emerges, the sense of dread becomes palpable. The psychoanalyst tries to make his fellow captives understand that it is their belief that the world is essentially rational that is their main problem, and his conversations with the prince, von Berg, are pivotal to the action.
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Format: Paperback
Incident at Vichy, first published in 1964, is one of Miller's lesser known works, but I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I conclude once again, as I did earlier this year after reading Death of a Salesman.... Miller is a genius!
The Crucible is another gem that everyone should read! Really, he is fantastically good.
Incident at Vichy takes place in 1942, in Nazi-occupied France [Vichy].
The setting is very simple. A detention room, where eight men and a young boy are being held. One by one, they are interrogated in an adjoining room and none of them are sure of the reason for their arrest.
In the tense interim, as would be expected, they talk with one another.
Some of these men are Jews, and some are not.
Soon, the consensus is that Jewishness is indeed the "crime" for which they've been rounded up, and rumors and speculations are exchanged.
Those who feel that their interrogation may end with a "pass" allowing them to leave, become optimistic. Those who know that they themselves are Jewish, panic. And the tension in the room mounts.
Should they try to escape? Should they behave themselves and hope for release? Surely, surely their worst fears cannot be true?
Soon there are only two men left in the room, awaiting judgment.
And Miller ends this 70-page nerve-rattler with a wonderful twist.
I'll only say that it is amazing how little paper Miller needs to show us the worst and the best of what it means to be a human being.

Apparently, the story itself came from a tale that Miller had heard about a Holocaust survivor, told to Miller by his psychiatrist. It was about a Jew who was rescued from the Nazis by a total stranger.
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