Tuesday, April 12, 2005

A Memory Of Two Mondays

The biggest surprise following Arthur Miller's death was the ferociousness of the attacks from the right. You might think they'd either praise him for the quality of his work, or lay off for a while. Instead, it was as if his demise were a chance to settle old scores.

Miller's political critics treated his plays as shabby hate letters to America. Now it's true that Miller was a leftist whose plots often had his country and the people in it coming up short. But that has little or nothing to do with his artistic worth.

The last two weeks my book group has been reading, aloud, Death Of A Salesman. I admit Miller has flaws, but there's an undeniable power. Times may have changed, but scene after scene hits home.

Maybe the play does take on the American Dream, but no country is above criticism. The question should be is it an artistic success. Will Miller's work still be produced a century from now? I don't know. But I think his work is large enough to withstand cheap attacks that attempt to simplify it into mere political propaganda.

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