Bernard Shaw, Playwright: Aspects of Shavian Drama

Bernard Shaw, Playwright: Aspects of Shavian Drama

Bernard Shaw, Playwright: Aspects of Shavian Drama

Bernard Shaw, Playwright: Aspects of Shavian Drama

Excerpt

It is never safe to take my plays at their suburban face value: it ends in your finding in them only what you bring to them, and so getting nothing for your money.

—Preface (1930) to The Apple Cart

The existence of a discoverable and perfectly definite thesis in a poet's work by no means depends on the completeness of his own intellectual consciousness of it.

—Preface to the First Edition (1891) of The Quintessence of Ibsenism

Here I must leave the matter, merely reminding those who may think that I have forgotten to reduce Ibsenism to a formula for them, that its quintessence is that there is no formula.

The Quintessence of Ibsenism

As it is impossible to say exactly what one means, it follows that it is impossible to mean exactly what one says.... I trust myself altogether to your intuition.

—Paper on Ibsen presented to the Fabian Society
(dated June-July 1890)

THIS book divides into two parts of unequal length. The first centers upon Shaw's theory, the second upon his practice. From various prefaces, letters, speeches, and other sources, I have in Part One organized Shaw's numerous scattered statements on playwriting to reveal a comprehensive and coherent theory of drama, a theory Shaw himself did not develop in any single work but touched on here and there throughout his writings, scattered over a lifetime.Although Part Two explores the more important precepts developed in Part One, it is not a simplistically schematic series of illustrative essays.To make it so would be to create the . . .

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