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date: 14 June 2024

Miller, Arthurlocked

Miller, Arthurlocked

  • Philip Parry

Extract

In 1990Arnold Wesker, the British playwright, invited Arthur Miller in a seventy-fifth birthday tribute to “stop writing…and give us a break.” Twelve years, four plays, and many essays and interviews later, this advice has plainly been ignored. Oddly, however, Miller's exceptionally productive later years have done little to extend his reputation. To the general public he remains, to his own considerable irritation and despite a great deal of converse evidence, a “naturalistic” or “realist” dramatist of the 1940s and 1950s. Although All My Sons (1947), Death of a Salesman (1949), The Crucible (1953), and A View from the Bridge (1956) are likely to remain the bedrock of his achievement, they are in an important respect unrepresentative of his work as a whole, for they leave out entirely Miller's identity as a Jew and the symbolic significance that he assigns to being Jewish. By contrast his only novel, Focus (1945), chronicles the rise of anti-Semitic movements in New York City, and most of his plays from After the Fall (1964) onward feature Jewish characters prominently. But although several Jewish actors have excelled as Death of a Salesman's Willy Loman, the Kellers of All My Sons and the Lomans are not (explicitly at any rate) Jewish families; The Crucible is set in a New England Christian community; and the characters in A View from the Bridge are Italian Americans.

Subjects

  • North American Literatures

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