Shaw: The Style and the Man

Shaw: The Style and the Man

Shaw: The Style and the Man

Shaw: The Style and the Man

Excerpt

Shaw is one of those writers, like Browne, Johnson, Carlyle, and James, whose styles make patent special claims for attention. In reading one of these authors we intuitively feel style to be more than incidentally important: when manner stands out so persistently and so idiosyncratically it is sensible to ask why. That "why" is best taken as a request to be shown other characteristics of the writer that make it seem inevitable for him to have precisely his style and no other. We want an explanation, but the farthest that literary study can go toward giving one is to say: "This fact about Shaw, and this fact, and this other all belong together, and they illuminate each other when so regarded. Although they may seem independent, possibly even contradictory, they make sense together under the rubric of this or that more inclusive truth about Shaw." Understanding of this sort is what I shall be looking for in the pages that follow.

Since American and English criticism have no firm tradition of stylistic analysis, it may be useful for me to say a word at the outset about method. My treatment of Shaw comprises, first, an effort to specify the modes of expression he finds most con-

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