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Bernard Shaw: A Critical View - download pdf or read online

By Nicholas Grene (auth.)

ISBN-10: 0312076614

ISBN-13: 9780312076610

ISBN-10: 1349175420

ISBN-13: 9781349175420

ISBN-10: 1349175447

ISBN-13: 9781349175444

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Sample text

Vivie takes the place of Harry Trench in Widowers' Houses as the innocent to be educated, but Shaw is far more interested in her than he was in Trench. In her, he claimed he put on the stage for the first time . . the highly educated, capable, independent young woman of the governing class as we know her today, working, smoking, preferring the society of men to that of women simply because men talk about the questions that interest her and not about servants & babies, making no pretence of caring much about art or romance, respectable through sheer usefulness & strength, and playing the part of the charming woman only as the amusement of her life, not as its serious occupation.

A deadpan programme note for the copyright performance in 1899 gave an enormous list of historical authorities, ancient and modern, and ended with the punch-line, 'Many of these authorities have consulted their imaginations, more or less. The author has done the same' (CP, II, 306). However, the dramatic imagination of a historical action is not, as Shaw implies, a simple matter of treating Caesar and Cleopatra as our contemporaries, and the problem of finding a credible style for his Romans and Egyptians is not one he solved altogether successfully.

Shakespeare's plays generated Shaw's in all sorts of major and minor ways. Caesar's spirited challenge of Rufio to a swimming-race as he prepares to leap into Alexandria harbour, stands against the satiric anecdote of the swimming-contest in the Tiber told by Cassius to belittle Caesar (Julius Caesar, I, ii). The character of Rufio himself, the type of the honest, cynical, direct Roman soldier, is very obviously derived from Shakespeare's Enobarbus. Yet in many of these instances Shaw's theatrical effects simply live off their Shakespearean counterparts; they do not correct, alter or invert the images from which they are derived.

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Bernard Shaw: A Critical View by Nicholas Grene (auth.)


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