Arthur Miller died too late on Thursday for my Wall Street Journal drama column to note his passing. Instead, I’ve marked the occasion with a piece on today’s Leisure & Arts page.
Regular readers won’t be surprised to learn that I’m pretty tough on the author of Death of a Salesman, for whom my admiration was sharply qualified:
I recently described “After the Fall,” the 1964 play in which Miller first made fictional use of his unsuccessful marriage to Marilyn Monroe, as “a lead-plated example of the horrors that result when a humorless playwright unfurls his midlife crisis for all the world to see,” written by a man “who hasn’t a poetic bone in his body (though he thinks he does).” For me, that was his biggest flaw. He was, literally, pretentious: He pretended to have big ideas and the ability to express them with a touch of poetry, when in fact he had neither. His final play, “Finishing the Picture,” was yet another rehash of the Monroe-Miller m