Tuesday, February 15, 2005

More on Miller

The encomia were ubiquitous. Arthur Miller was celebrated as a great playwright all around the world. A few days ago I gave an example of the reaction from the American knee-jerk Left. Harold Pinter's reaction shows us the European version.

Pinter--the man that gives one pauses--is a playwright almost as celebrated as Miller. (I don't quite see why, but that's a different post.) In his tribute, he's tries to explain why Miller in his final decades was more popular overseas:
"In the United States, they didn't like him very much because he was too outspoken and too critical of the way of life in the United States and certain assumptions that were made over there."
Pinter, who has opposed most of America's foreign policy since he's been alive, predictably assumes we're no good at self-criticism (because if we were good at it, after all, we'd stop doing everything we're doing). In assuming the worst, Pinter makes a mistake that any leftist who lives here, even David Edelstein, wouldn't.

Arthur Miller was, in fact, one of the few great Americans playwrights the average person here could name. His work, particularly Death Of A Salesman and The Crucible, are high school staples.

No, it's our intelligentsia who have been beating up on him for years. Why don't they like him? They claim he's got clunky plots, stilted dialogue, pat psychology, overt didacticism, unearned revelations, limited viewpoint. His plays are old-fashioned, mostly humorless, and made up of stick figures. He's a third-rate Ibsen at best. However, they have no trouble with his criticism of America except perhaps it's not incisive enough.

If anyone reading this knows Harold, please inform him of his mistake.


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