Shaw, George Bernard. (1856 - 1950).
W o r k
< influenced by such diverse personalities as Karl Marx, Richard Wagner, and Henrik Ibsen
- author of more than 50 plays, a socialist, drama critic, music critic, art critic, and a public speaker
- his plays fuse elements of socialism, science, and philosophy: attacks conventional moralism, makes his characters argue their points of view to justify themselves, and moves the audience to uncomfortable sympathy
- emphasises the discussion: makes play and discussion practically identical, makes the spectators themselves the persons of the drama, and the incidents of their own lives its incidents
- faced difficulties with getting his plays performed: published them in a book form with a didactic preface as Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant (1898)
> received the Nobel Prize for Literature (1925)
Widower’s Houses (1892):
- his first play, criticizes the slum landlordism
Mrs Warren’s Profession (1893):
- criticizes the lack of employment occasions for women
- contrasts the future professional career of an educated, would-be-independent woman x the oldest profession of female prostitution
- in the preface explains that prostitution is caused not by female depravity x but: by underpaying, undervaluing, and overworking women
Arms and the Man (1894) and Candida (1894):
- ‘pleasant’ plays for the commercial theatre
The Perfect Wagnerite (1898):
- transforms Wagner’s mythology from ‘The Ring Cycle’ into philosophical analyses of modern realities
- dramatises the three main orders of men: ‘dwarfs’ (instinctive, lustful, and greedy), ‘giants’ (patient, toiling, and stupid), and ‘gods’ (intellectual, moral, and talented)
Major Barbara (1905):
- concerned with the idea of the future reconstruction of society by a power-manipulating minority
- concerned with the relationship between a ‘creator’ x his ‘creation’
> became the basis of the musical My Fair Lady (1956)
Heartbreak House (1919):
- develops the theme of the three contending orders of men of The Perfect Wagnerite: the god-like survivors destroy the other two orders
Saint Joan (1923):
- celebrates the canonisation of Joan of Arc x but: renders Joan as a strong, self-aware, and self-asserting woman in an earthly way
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons).
AuthorGeorge Bernard Shaw. (1856 - 1950). Irish.
WorkPlaywright. Drama Critic. Social critic. Nobel Prize winner (1925). Author of Pygmalion (1912).
GenresSocial drama. Comedy. Satire.
Abrams, Meyer Howard, ed. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. New York: W. W. Norton, 1993.
Barnard, Robert. Stručné dějiny anglické literatury. Praha: Brána, 1997.
Baugh, Albert C. ed. A Literary History of England. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1967.
Coote, Stephen. The Penguin Short History of English Literature. London: Penguin, 1993.
Sampson, George. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1946.
Sanders, Andrew. The Short Oxford History of English Literature. New York: Clarendon Press, 1994.
"People are always blaming circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't find them, make them."
From Mrs Warren's Profession (1893).