11. SHAW CRITICIZES HIS BIOGRAPHER

ALL things considered, Shaw bore up pretty well when he read the final proofs of my Life of him. But he had several comments to make.

"You are still a bit in the nineteenth century in respect of arranging religion, politics, science, and art in braintight compartments, mostly incompatible and exclusive," he said. "They don't exist that way at all. There is no such thing as the religious man, the political man, the scientific man, the artistic man; in human nature they are all mixed up in different proportions, and that is how they are mixed in my plays. In Saint Joan the Bishop, the Inquisitor, and the feudal baron are as religious as Joan without her peculiar delusions; and I have brought out the fact that she was a very dangerous woman as well as a saint. Your preference for Caesar, Joan, and Charles II is due, not to their being better plays, but to their having a political and religious framework with which you are familiar and which gives you no trouble, whereas my post-Marx, post-Bergson, ultra-Shavian plays bother you; and you turn them down as inferior when what is wrong is that they are less easy to take in."

To this I answered: "I'm afraid you're wrong in saying that there are no such things as the religious man, the political man, the scientific man, the artistic man, and so forth, because I happen to know there are. Not only is the world dotted with doctors who are solely interested in medicine, lawyers who can talk of nothing but their cases, politicians who spend their lives lobbying and wire-pulling, business men who can think of nothing but money-making, sportsmen who do little but dream of 'winners,' clergymen who cannot be dragged from theology, and engineers who are lost when they have nothing to tinker with, but I myself am absolutely and exclusively artistic, that is, I am interested in human beings, not in doctrines and theories, in the substance, not the shadow. Shakespeare, too, was solely interested in human nature, the material for his art, and did not care a rap for religion, politics, science, philosophy, and all the rest of the rot wherewith mankind is perpetually doped. That is why I can understand Shakespeare, and you cannot. I love your religious creations because they are primarily human beings and express emotions, not creeds. In Androcles you really get away from polemics

-61-

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G. B. S.: A Postscript
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • By the Same Author: *
  • Title Page iii
  • To Eleanor O'Connell v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Trials of a Biographer 1
  • I. a Back Number 3
  • 3. the Mythical G.B.S. 5
  • 4. Lies and Libels 8
  • 5. No Laughing Matter 13
  • 6. Sexless Appeal 21
  • 10. a Shavian Production 45
  • A Postscript 59
  • 11. Shaw Criticizes His Biographer 61
  • 13. Stella and Isadora 73
  • 15. a New Alphabet 75
  • 16. Playwright or Propagandist? 79
  • 17. Shaw Dictates His Obituary 84
  • 18. Pilgrims at Ayot 86
  • 9 Three Score Years and Thirty 88
  • 20. a Bardic Battle 90
  • 23. Bewitched 103
  • Aspects of Shaw 117
  • 24. the Man 119
  • 26. the Reformer 122
  • 27. His First Appearance 125
  • 28. an Obituary 127
  • 29. the Modern Methuselah 133
  • Index 135
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