Even death loses much of its sting, for often the character can be resurrected, or reincarnated. And should that fail there is always the option to begin anew with a new character. Thus ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS is, as are most role-playing games, open-ended. There is no "winner", no final objective, and the campaign grows and changes as it matures.So many useful insights in so few words.
Lots of people have pointed out, rightly, that it's because old school characters are mechanically simple, it's a small matter to replace them when they die to a failed saving throw. There's no slowdown in the action, because it takes no more than five minutes to generate a new OD&D or AD&D character to replace a fallen adventurer. As the Gygax quote above points out, though, in D&D, there's often no need to replace the character at all.
I recall that some people were shocked and even appalled that, in my Dwimmermount campaign, a 2nd-level PC was returned to life by his comrades, who pooled all their resources to pay for his resurrection. This was seen as somehow a betrayal of the pulp fantasy principles I've regularly championed in this blog. The reality is that, while I do believe that modern incarnations of D&D have strayed ever farther from the literary roots of the game, I believe neither that pulp fantasy literature is the only source of OD&D nor that OD&D was ever intended to be a strict simulation of pulp fantasy -- or indeed of any of the many things that influenced its creators.
The players in my campaign chose to resurrect their fellow adventurer both because the rules gave them the tools to do so and because they felt it's the action their characters would reasonably take, given the existence of resurrection magic. I did not feel then -- and do not feel now -- that it was "wrong" to let them play the game as it was written because it would be a violation of the grim and gritty feel most people associate with pulp fantasy. The campaign is not a simulation of pulp fantasy short stories; it's Dungeons & Dragons and in D&D, as Gygax says, "even death loses much of its sting."
My point here is simply that I think most of the people who dislike save or die do so because they feel it gets in the way of "the story." To have a hero unceremoniously cut down because of a giant spider bite or a beholder eye blast ruins the grand epic they want to tell. Ironically, I think the presence of resurrection and restorative magic is a similar bugaboo for gamers at the other end of the spectrum. They're not so concerned about "story" as such, but they are keen on pulp fantasy emulation and, since Conan couldn't just go and raise Valeria from the dead, they feel that D&D characters shouldn't be allowed to do so either. For them, resurrection breaks the frame of their imagination every bit as much as save or die does for others.
Me, I just play D&D, with all its quirks, whether they be save or die or (relatively) easy resurrection. That's what the game has always been for me. Indeed, I'd consider both defining characteristics of the game: easy death and easy resurrection. Sure, save or die makes it hard to play Aragorn and resurrection makes it hard to play Conan, but then who said D&D is about playing either Aragorn or Conan?