Monday, 21 March 2011

Death of a Salesman

I greatly enjoyed reading this play over the last few days. It's funny, poignant and well observed.

One thing that greatly impaired my appreciation of Miller's masterpiece is the dreadful Penguin Modern Classics edition I inherited from Elisabetta's school days. The paper is the colour of a hepatitis patient's face and the type is pretty crammed. I think I might have preferred a Kindle edition to this.

Our edition is priced at £1,75 UK and I think its publication date is 1986. The copyright page says: First published 1949. Published in Great Britain by the Cresset Press 1949. Published by Penguin Books 1961. Reprinted 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969 (twice), 1970 (twice), 1971, 1972, 1973 (twice), 1975 (twice), 1976 (twice), 1977 (twice), 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983 (twice), 1984, 1985 (twice), 1986 (three times).

But although they've had at least twenty-five years and thirty-five editions to get things right, this edition is littered with a few bizarre typos – bizarre because we are talking about one of the most important texts to come from America since the Second World War.

Linda is made to stutter – but only on page 10 – "be-behind the other..."; a full stop is missing on p.18, ironically at the end of the sentence "I don't know how to do it"; on page 72, "Biffs' in town" and "Yeah, Biffs' in" – and so on and so forth.

Going back to the play, it made me want to go to the theatre and see it. I hope it's going to be on in London soon.

1 comment:

  1. It's very interesting what you say about Penguin typos. As a student in the 1970s I used to think that Penguins were a kind of gold standard, and I think they actually were up to about then but I keep discovering in 1980s and later Penguins sloppinesses that I never expected to be there.


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