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Death of a Salesman: Certain Private Conversations in Two Acts and a Requiem (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 30 Mar 2000

4.5 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (30 Mar. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141182741
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141182742
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 0.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 615 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon 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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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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By A Customer on 17 May 2000
Format: Paperback
Death of a Salesman is a trdgedy of the common man. It is mainly concerned with the fulfillment of the American Dream, but it also shows aspects of family life and commercilalism. Willy Loman is a failed salesman, who forces his dreams onto his two sons, Biff and Happy. Biff had a promising future but after an incident, refused to take part in the American dream, and chooses to 'Bum around' on farms 'out West'. His Brother Happy is the assistant to one of the assistant buyers, but sees himself as a great success. Miller concentrates on how the characters lie to themselves about who and what they are, and this is ultimatly the downfall of Willy, Happy and possibly Biff. The play is an important lesson for all. Although written in the forties, it is still increadibly relavent today in this age of consumerism and the tremedous desire for success. I have recently read this play, and it has changed my whole perspective on life, aspects of the play are constantly mirrored in every day life, and I am sure one of the characters will be relavent to you. This play - contraversial in the forties and fifties leading to Miller being charged with anti-American activities - should be read by all, putting your feet firmly on the ground.
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By Thespionic TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 12 May 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been in sales most of my working life and I can relate so much to this play / story. Selling is all about the incentives – a fast track to the top and big bucks if you're good, but below the surface is the real pressure of the job - to produce the goods, week in, week out, the continual pressure of sales success and the company profit, on that your job depends. It's a life of continual ups and downs. The people in the business talk of ‘burn out’ and very few salespeople stay in the job for any real length of time!
Willy was clearly burnt out in the end, maybe a bit of a dinosaur in a changing world. He was arrogant in many ways, or perhaps just 'conditioned' as many sales people are. Willy clearly had a concept of himself, his image and what he stood for and wanted for his family – the truth was that latterly he lived a lie and had a very fanciful grip on reality?
Willy loved his family and wanted the best for them, but couldn’t grasp the pressure he was putting his sons under or the fact that they were already conditioned by him and mirrored his salesman's 'bluster' in many ways.
He wasn’t against asking his only real friend and neighbour, Charley, for money when broke, but was far too proud to actually work under him when offered a job. He constantly talked up his old pals in the business world, and was justifiably proud of the the loyal stint he’d put in, but would his long standing boss and his so called business pals return that respect to Willy?
The storyline builds up gradually and it’s quite obvious very early on that Willy is under strain and is not living in reality – things are going to hit the fan, it’s only a matter of when?
The finale is beautifully written - it's compelling and poignant. It's undeniably a great play.
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I came to Death of a Salesman: Certain Private Conversations in Two Acts and a Requiem (Penguin Modern Classics) via a description of its author in Max Frisch's Amerika!. In it one gets the impression that some of the characteristics of Willy Loman - the protagonist - were not only those of Miller's salesman uncle Manny but got transferred to Miller himself (at least a couple of years after the play's prime).

It is a day in life of a failed salesman, who still chases his American dream, at the same time being completely downtrodden and knowing that he is at the end. The other characters, his wife and the two sons - Biff and Happy - contribute to the illusion and have all been shaped and damaged by the same 'oversell yourself' dogma of Willy Loman.

The book is pretty tragic and Miller manages to bring across the message well, that life is not always on the up for everyone and that boundless optimism alone will not cut it. Yet some perceived societal pressures make it incredibly difficult for many (cue Willy, his wife Linda and Happy) to face the truth and deal with it effectively. The consumer culture then just exacerbates the situation by the protagonist feeling under increasing pressure to deliver in order to stay within hailing distance of the neighbours and society at large.

Funnily enough the book seems a perfect - fictional - complement to Barbara Ehrenreich's Bait and Switch: The Futile Pursuit of the Corporate Dream. It is a sobering read and is likely to leave you questioning some aspects of the corporate rat race as well as of the constant self-delusion that unmade Willy Loman, as well as many others in our society.
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A great play, but probably better visualised on stage; reading it, I found it hard to discern between flashback and present, and this play, like all other plays, was written to be performed. So to read it is probably not a great idea, unless you have seen it or will do soon.
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Format: Paperback
Well I read this play for my English Literature class. Our unit was simply titled `Tragedy' and that pretty much sums up the play in a single word. It is one of those titles that is definitely what it says on the tin.

Death of a Salesman is a play about Willy Loman, a failing and aging salesman who cannot come to terms that he is not the man he used to be. The plays shows us Willy's emotional breakdown through flashback which blur his perception of reality and memories. It also talks about his family - his wife Linda and her struggle to keep Willy happy and of their two sons Biff and (I'm not making this up) Happy.

First off let's just congratulate Arthur Miller for picking two great names for Willy's children. I know Happy is just a nickname but it is the one which his lines are referred to as. That's probably the only funny thing in the play and also an ironic device used to show how Happy actually isn't happy and all that jazz.

I really loved Death of a Salesman, it is incredibly short yet powerful and moving. Arthur Miller makes us question what truly makes us happy. Do we appreciate the great things in life like family? Or are we, like Willy, still obcessed with achieving the American Dream.

A communist at heart Miller hated the American Dream and used this play to highlight how destructive and futile the capitalist dream is and how capitalist society uses and abuses people before throwing them away without a second glance. However some people still say that it is a worthy or even achievable goal. I say read Death of a Salesman followed by The Great Gatsby and Of Mice and Men and then see whether you still believe and aspire to the dream.
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