Playwright Arthur Miller, born in New York City to Polish immigrants, died yesterday at age 89. I think it’s a back-handed compliment for many English majors to be surprised by this news, surprised that Miller had still been around to die. Miller wrote the classics “Death of a Salesman” and “The Crucible.” Friends say he was writing new plays until his recent illness.

Reuters quotes actress Zoe Caldwell, saying, “He was a big man and a deeply American man who was lucky enough to have extraordinary women in his life.” Caldwell performed “The Creation of the World and Other Business.”

Erica Wagner, Literary Editor of The Times of England, says the 20th century may be the century of Arthur Miller. “In the East London school where my husband teaches, the students who read Death of a Salesman weep as much as I did when I first saw it . . . Call the 20th century Miller’s century: a time and a man to trouble us, to inspire us, to call us to question each other and ourselves.”