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The first item on the Better World Books 2016 Reading Challenge is […]
C. W. E. Bigsby
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On its New York premiere in 1949, Death of a Salesman was hailed as the first great play to lay bare the emptiness of America's relentless drive for material success. The extraordinary success of the play throughout the world over a period of nearly fifty years, however, highlights what is perhaps its greatest strength. In the words of Christopher Bigsby, the noted Miller scholar who has provided the Introduction to this edition, "If Willy Loman's dream is an American dream, it is also a dream shared by all those who are aware of the gap between what they might have been and what they are".
Willy Loman, the protagonist of Death of a Salesman, has spent his life following the American way, living out his belief in salesmanship as a way to reinvent himself. But somehow the riches and respect he covets have eluded him. At age sixty-three, he searches for the moment his life took a wrong turn, the moment of betrayal that undermined his relationship with his wife and destroyed his relationship with Biff, the son in whom he invested his faith. Willy lives in a fragile fantasy world of elaborate excuses and daydreams, conflating past and present in a desperate attempt to make sense of himself and of a world that once promised so much.
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