1: Text excerpt, George Ross's “Death of a Salesman in the Original,” 1951.
Soon after it premiered, Death of a Salesman was translated into Yiddish by Joseph Buloff and subsequently performed by a Yiddish theater troupe. In this excerpt, actor and writer George Ross writes about his impressions of the Yiddish play.
Suggested Activity: Tell students about the performance of the play in Yiddish. Then, have them read the text above in small groups or as a class and discuss the following questions:
- (Check for understanding) In a sentence or two, summarize Ross’s argument.
- What is your initial reaction to Ross’s argument? Explain.
- Why do you think Ross claims that Miller might have “tried to ignore or censor out the Jewish part”? What could Miller have gained by doing so?
Then have students work individually or in small groups to select a short scene from the play and rewrite it as if the characters were Jewish. Consider: What language will you change? What will you add or take out? What makes a character or a family Jewish and how will you infuse that into the scene?
Source: George Ross, “Death of a Salesman in the Original," in Commentary (February 1951), 184.