Since the Opening Curtain, a Question: Is Willy Loman Jewish?

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Yiddish play with the title “Toyt fun a Salesman” opened at the Parkway Theater in Brooklyn early in 1951. As most of the audience recognized from the name alone, the show was a translation of Arthur Miller’s drama “Death of a Salesman.” It seemed a mere footnote to the premiere production, which had completed its triumphal run on Broadway several months earlier, having won the Pulitzer Prize.

Even so, a theater critic in Commentary magazine, George Ross, declared of the Brooklyn version, “What one feels most strikingly is that this Yiddish play is really the original, and the Broadway production was merely Arthur Miller’s translation into English.”

History, it must be said, has not exactly ratified Mr. Ross’s judgment. In an enduring way, however, he framed a penetrating question about Miller’s masterpiece, which has echoed from the 1949 debut to the celebrated revival now on Broadway. Is Willy Loman Jewish?

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureTheatre/Drama/Plays* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

Posted May 27, 2012 at 6:46 am

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