Book Review

After The Fall by Arthur Miller

Photo on 19-11-2013 at 18.17 #3

I have had one of the most boring days of my life. I dedicated OVER SEVEN HOURS to getting hold of an Indian visa for a glamorous trip my girlfriend is taking without me. I went back and forth from our house to the Visa Application Centre (a twenty-five minute walk, but such a route that buses or tube would have taken longer) THREE TIMES, waking up about ninety minutes earlier than usual in order to get it out of the way by mid-morning. I didn’t get it out of the way by mid-morning. It was only just done by mid-afternoon.

But stuck in tens of queues and a big waiting room throughout the course of the day did give me time to plough through an Arthur Miller script, inbetween sneering at retired hippies and trying to ignore people talking about their children and/or careers*. Disgusting. I read  an odd play, After The Fall. I’m used to, with the Arthur Miller pieces I ‘ve read before, his work being REASONABLY straightforward in terms of staging/chronology.** But this was the complete opposite of what I had, perhaps incorrectly, expected.

The action all takes place within the memory, the mind, of the protagonist, Quentin. He reminisces about his childhood, the death of his mother, a touristic visit to a concentration camp, his lovers, his friends, his career… Visions of his past appear, he remembers conversations, he recalls propositions, he thinks about the way his marriages fell apart… Snippets, tiny, disordered, snippets of a life. Political intrigue in references to McCarthyism, growing anti-Semitism in the USA post the Second World War…*** Lots of familiar themes to a Miller fan, but a rather unexpectedly non-naturalist set-up for exploring them. Family, infidelity, loyalty, et cetera, they’re all in here. I enjoyed it, despite the horrendous conditions I read it under.

However, I would have to point out that it is not as strong as Death of A Salesman or A View From The Bridge. But it’s good. And the first play I’ve read in a while. Back on the horse. Back on the horse.

* I couldn’t work out which of these was annoying me more. I think ultimately it is just the lives of others that I have no interest in, be it their work OR their home lives.

** I’d like to point out that I’ve only read the three obvious ones, and the most recent of those six years ago…

*** These two themes Miller engaged with more fully in, respectively, The Crucible and Focus, the latter of which was a novel, not a play.

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