Shaw

Shaw

Shaw

Shaw

Excerpt

When Chesterton published a study of Shaw entitled George Bernard Shaw in the far-off days before the first World War, Shaw described it as the best book he had yet provoked. Yet it is an intensely individual—some would say, an eccentrically individual— study, which tells us at least as much about Chesterton as it does about Shaw.

I should like to think that the following sketch qualifies for attention by virtue of falling within the same category; for assuredly it qualifies by no other. It is in no sense a full-length study of Shaw's life and work nor, since Hesketh Pearson's admirable biography appeared, is such a study called for.

Hesketh Pearson has done his work so well that to the account he has given us of Shaw's life there is nothing material to add. Here are all the facts which future writers will need for their verdicts, clearly arranged and entertainingly presented. Here, in fact, is all the material for a future authoritative appraisement of George Bernard Shaw. But for authoritative appraisement the time is not yet. Shaw was too Protean a personage to fit into the categories of quick and easy verdicts. He excelled in so many capacities, as prose‐ writer, pamphleteer, controversialist, orator, wit, political thinker, philosopher and public figure, as well as playwright, that it is difficult to view him as a whole, difficult to see the wood precisely because of the multitudinous excellences of the individual trees. The wood can only be seen in perspective and the formation of a perspective takes time. As we look back from our own vantage point, we can see the impossibility of adequately appraising at the time of his death the stature and work of Voltaire.

What, then, can one hope to do in a sketch of this kind? To disentangle a single strand in the complex . . .

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