In our shadowed present

In these trying times, we need all the light relief we can get, so thank God Oliver Kamm is back and posting. For those who don’t know, Oliver is the bizarro world version of me; I believe that his website has a negative number of jokes and thus in a perverse way is hilarious. Like me, however, OK is one of those young men of the temperament whereby you get the impression that if he had been around at the Creation, he might have offered some useful advice. This week he’s writing a review of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman for the Times; he isn’t their drama critic or anything but a few words on why socialism is bad and all criticisms of America are fundamentally mistaken are welcome in the Murdoch press anywhere you can shoe ’em in. I think that Miller’s reputation will survive.

I have my own reservations about Miller’s masterpiece, by the way. In obituaries, it was claimed that DoaS “shocked” New York audiences when it came out. How? There’s no possibility of suspense. If a play’s called Death of a Salesman and the first character to bounce onstage is a salesman, then I’d be elbowing my neighbour in the ribs going “oooh dear it’s not going to work out well for that poor bugger”. If Arthur Miller had written Hamlet he would probably have called it The Prince Who Killed His Uncle.

I have opinions about Harold Pinter too if anyone wants to hear ’em.


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