It took more than fifty years for The Man Who Had All the Luck to be appreciated for what it truly is: the first stirrings of a genius that would go on to blossom in such masterpieces as Death of a Salesman and The Crucible. Infused with the moral malaise of the Depression era, the parable-like drama centers on David Beeves, a man whose every obstacle to personal and professional success seems to crumble before him with ease. But his good fortune merely serves to reveal the tragedies of those around him in greater relief, offering what David believes to be evidence of a capricious god or, worse, a godless, arbitrary universe. David’s journey toward fulfillment becomes a nightmare of existential doubts, a desperate grasp for reason in a cosmos seemingly devoid of any, and a struggle that will take him to the brink of madness. This Penguin Classics edition includes an introduction by Christopher Bigsby.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
About the Author
Christopher Bigsby is a professor of American Studies at the University of East Anglia. He edited the Penguin Classics editions of Miller's The Crucible, Death of a Salesman, and All My Sons.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is one of Miller's earliest plays, and as such, carries with it a kind of charm. It may appeal to those with a nostalgia for '30s era Depression home dramas about working class American families. We follow David, a skillful mechanic who hopes to marry his sweetheart, Hester, despite her father's objections. Very quickly, the father, like other obstacles in David's quest for triumph, disappear. On this weak premise, we see David and others in his inner circle marvel at his great luck. Sure, he works hard and has a good heart, but as one of the other characters remarks, there seems to be a "guardian angel" following him. The problem with this idea is that there's nothing for the audience to do. They have nothing to root for. The hero in this story keeps getting what he wants. Worse, his only problem seems to be that he can't find a problem, so he goes looking for it. When the protagonist has to create his own dilemma we're on shaky ground. This play is best read on a rainy Sunday afternoon with no plans except maybe a nap. It serves to show that even a master craftsman like Miller had to start somewhere.