Theater: American Tragedy

At 50, Willy Loman is still our favorite failure

LINDA LOMAN: Attention, attention must finally be paid to such a person.

Death of A Salesman got plenty of attention right from the start. When it opened on Broadway in February 1949, the advance buzz was intense, the critics mostly raved (though TIME's Louis Kronenberger complained about its "inadequate artistry" and "sometimes stolid prose"), and the play went on to win both a Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize. It catapulted Arthur Miller to the top rank of American playwrights and has made perhaps a firmer dent in our consciousness than any other drama written for the American stage. So when...

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