Skip to comments.The cure for Bernard Shaw
Posted on 10/05/2007 2:50:02 PM PDT by neverdem
The first writer whose prose style I ever admired was Bernard Shaw. I was between eleven and twelve years old at the time, and did not arrive at my judgment independently. I was under the influence of my English teacher, the first intellectual I had ever met (other than a second cousin who had published a few verses in the small and evanescent English-language literary journals of Paris in the 1950s), and I and my friends admired him to the point of hero-worship. If he had told us that the greatest novelists who ever lived were Marie Corelli and E. Phillips Oppenheim, we should have defended his opinion to the death, citing his arguments, and the fact that he advanced them, as proof incontrovertible of its truth.
In fact, his attitude to Shaw was little short of ours to him, namely idolatry. He told us that Shaw was the greatest playwright in the English language since Shakespeare, which I thought a far greater accolade then than I think it now, bearing in mind the quality of the drama in English since Shakespeare, even were it true. Shaw, our teacher gave us to understand, was right about everything, from his championship of Wagner to his vegetarianism; uniquely among playwrights, he was a true philosopher. Our teacher was so charismatic that we believed him without demur; later, long after he had ceased to influence my ideas, he became a professor of literature.
In truth, Shaw did have a vigorous prose style, but as I subsequently learned, it was more suited to meretricious argumentation and paradox-mongering than to serious exploration of reality. As such, it was bound to appeal to the adolescent mind, to all those who thought that the provocation of their elders was the beginning, and pretty well the end, of...
(Excerpt) Read more at newcriterion.com:81 ...
It must not like you printer............
A remarkably good summation of much academic "literature" over the last 50 years or so.
LOL. John Kerry comes to mind.
Delightful article, thanks for the post.
"NOTE: Unfortunately our website continues to experience a number of difficulties. We are working to overhaul the website over the coming months, and apologize for any lingering malfunctions which plague your exploration of the site."
It's only linking there homepage. It's the third story from the top. The following was my mistake in not linking previously a number of links.
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Been there, done that, embarrassed.
Bernard Shaw...Wasn’t he the guy who asked Michael Dukakis that question in the 1988 Presidential debate about whether he would support the death penalty for someone who might rape and kill Mrs. Dukakis?
I’ve read only a small sampling of Shaw, but what I’ve read is impressive. “Caesar and Cleopatra” is absolutely terrific and “Pygmalion” is a classic that has flourished through the decades. I know he’s a socialist and all. Just sayin’...
You grew out of it, as did I, who am also embarassed.
WAY too many people in America of advanced age still think the primary purpose of art and literature is to be “transgressive,” whereas I think any intelligent adult will realize that such a goal is trivial and childish by its very nature.
He certainly was. And I thank him for helping to torpedo the midget's campaign.
Didn’t he dip his quill in other men’s ink wells?
If you want to see English used, abused and entertaining, Resoration Comedy, Shaw was a parvenu.
George Bernard Shaw, the playwrite and author, was like a child always trying to get attention by saying naughty things and upholding any outrageous value he could find.
He loved Stalin and the 'Boleshevik experiment' so much that he made a well-publicized trip to Ukraine in 1931 at the beginning of the Soviet enforced famine and wrote that he threw his lunch sack out the train car window because "there's no famine here!" The Soviets showed him what he wanted to see in staged Potemkin villages while Stalin had ordered the seizure of Ukrainian food and up to 10 million Ukrainians starved to death.
Shaw never acknowledged any personal errors, and seemed to live his long life with a huge chip on his shoulder from his childhood family problems.
I noticed somebosy already put Theodore Dalrymple into the keywords, because it must be him: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodore_Dalrymple
I haven’t reread any Shaw recently, but I’ve always enjoyed it.
As a philosopher, I would agree, he is rather juvenile. But his plays are fun. Even in school and college, I couldn’t take it seriously, but I got a kick out of it. You don’t read Shaw to learn what the meaning of life is.
The same (or similar) with Tolstoy. He can be rather silly, but “War and Peace” is still a great book.
In truth, Shaw did have a vigorous prose style, but as I subsequently learned, it was more suited to meretricious argumentation and paradox-mongering than to serious exploration of reality.Wow, that's the best one-sentence analysis of GBS I've ever read. But of course, I don't do much reading... ;') Of Shakespeare, Shaw said, something like, he could tell a wonderful tale, provided someone told it to him first. Shaw also sort-of championed one of the "real authors" of Shakespeare. OTOH, he thought Samuel Butler was right about the authoress of the Odyssey. Thanks neverdem.
Except that Shaw wrote some really great stuff.
Thanks for posting, from one who never could reconcile the wit of Pygmalion and the windy nonsense of some prefaces.
Okay, I’m spinning with identity confusion. First, it took a few lines to get to the fact that this was talking about George Bernard Shaw, not the Bernard Shaw ex- of CNN and CBS. Then, I’m wondering, is this the same Anthony Daniels who gained his greatest fame as the dude in the C3P0 suit?