Appreciations: Arthur Miller: Death of a Legend: “For anyone who has ever spent an evening absorbed in ‘Death of a Salesman,’ watching Willy Loman’s ineffably sad decline, there should be little doubt about Arthur Miller’s genius. Still, when the mourning ends for Mr. Miller, who died Thursday, the question of the timelessness of his work will remain. Mr. Miller’s career had its share of misfires, but on the strength of his best plays, he seems as destined for immortality as his most famous character was for obscurity.Cohen, Adam. 14 Feb 2005. “Arthur Miller: Death of a Legend.” The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/14/opinion/arthur-miller-death-of-a-legend.html
Mr. Miller’s plays are entrenched in the American canon, and in high school curriculums, but there have always been skeptics. Part of the problem is that Mr. Miller’s private life, notably his marriage to Marilyn Monroe, often overshadowed his literary work. The story of the romance between the egghead playwright and the Hollywood bombshell was so captivating that the stories Mr. Miller was writing for the stage could not always compete.”
I remember as a high school student being amazed that Mr. Miller was actually alive. One of the dead European-descended white men was not so dead. Mr. Cohen discusses the supposed controversy about Mr. Miller’s logevity in the literary canon. But there really is no question. As like to ask if Harper Lee will drop from the canon as the segregation of the South fades over the next hundred years. The idea is based on an overly shallow reading of a profound work. As Mr. Cohen notes later in this piece: “The Crucible may have been an allegory of McCarthyism, but new generations have eagerly adopted it, sometimes blithely unaware of its provenance, because of what it says about the human heart.”
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