George Bernard Shaw: Man of the Century

By Archibald Henderson | Go to book overview
Save to active project

The End of the Beginning1

EVERY MOMENT IN HISTORY IS BOTH AN END AND A BEGINNING. THE PRESENT moment insistently compels a retrospect of the colorful and spectacular career of this man of the century who left a distinctive mark upon the thought and culture of our time. This retrospect is taken in the present centennial biography covering the period from 1856 to 1956. The publication of this work, written with the subject's assistance and encouragement, marks the conclusion of unremitting studies, covering more than half a century, of all phases of the life and career of the most widely publicized literary figure of the contemporary era. Since the very beginning of this biographical pilgrimage which began in 1904, I have treated Shaw as a towering genius and one of the world's great masters of the drama. This I have done deliberately in defiance of convention, without considering the ultimate verdict of posterity. This bold assumption of his literary immortality now appears to be justified by the achievements during his lifetime, recorded in the present work. The dial marks the end of a life and the appearance of its record by the biographer: the beginning of posthumous critical contemplation and appraisal of a protean genius, typical of an age, the tone and temper of which he did so much to create.

To find in history Shaw's first authentic congener and true spiritual progenitor, we must turn our thoughts backwards some twenty-three and a half centuries to one of the most dramatic and moving episodes in all of human history. In the year 399 before Christ, Socrates, the great Greek teacher and philosopher, was arraigned before a tribunal of five hundred judges on two charges:

First. "Socrates is an evil-doer and a curious person, searching into things under the earth and above the heaven; and making the worse appear the better cause, and teaching all this to others."

Second. "Socrates is an evil-doer and corrupter of the youth, who does not receive the gods whom the state receives, but introduces other new divinities."

In an address at the Lord Mayor's Day Luncheon, London, November 10, 1942, the Hon. Winston Churchill said: " GeneralAlexander, with his brilliant comrade and lieutenant, General Montgomery, has gained a glorious and decisive victory in what I think should be called The Battle of Egypt. Rommel's army has been defeated, it has been routed, it has very largely been destroyed as a fighting force. . . . Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."


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.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

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

Cited page

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

Table of contents



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?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 978

matching results for page

Cited passage

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

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.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?