George Bernard Shaw: Man of the Century

By Archibald Henderson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
Flirting with Fiction

IN CASHEL BYRON'S PROFESSION, THE PUGILIST HERO FORTHRIGHTLY REMARKS that it's not what a man would like to do, but what he can do, that he must work at in this world. When Shaw joined his mother and sister at No. 13 Victoria Grove, London, which he has so pleasingly described in the Preface to Immaturity, he had no very clear idea of his ambition or his ultimate career. When he remarked to Clarence Rook, twenty years later, that "London was not ripe for me" in 1876, he was coining an amusing phrase which did not quite turn the truth upside down. Shaw was full of culture, musical, artistic, scientific, literary; but he had no conception of the extent to which London society, though contemptuously aware of these "professional things," contrives to get on without them on an intellectual diet of sport, party politics, and the routine of fashion and travel. In Dublin the professions form the aristocracy; and one could, without horses, guns, or any experience of them, and with the income of an English peer's chef, enjoy the run of the best society there is without ever feeling even "middle class." Shaw, being a Shaw, and therefore by family tradition pre-eminently a gentleman, accepted no sort of social inferiority, and was quite unable to understand why anyone in his position and possessing his culture should do so. He was bumptious, half baked, crude, and poor. During the four preceding years he had missed the indispensable social drill of neighborly visiting with mother and sisters, with the inevitable result that he was ill at ease in society and at once aggressive and shy.

Gravitation, as he curiously expressed it, alone sustained him; for the qualities he lacked were initiative and direction.1 As we shall see later, his first attempts at journalism during the course of nearly nine years met with almost unbroken failure. After a few years of casual and desultory activities, he settled down to the laborious writing of fiction in 1879.

Again and again, Shaw has poured out the vials of his scorn upon the profession of clerk. But clerkship left him two valuable legacies: a legible and businesslike chirography; and the habit of regular work. The appalling volume

____________________
1
Shaw once remarked to Henry Salt that, although he was on a slant like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, he continued to tower above his contemporaries and would never fall, because he was sustained by the force of levity.

-93-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
George Bernard Shaw: Man of the Century
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 978

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.