metabiology has come to its own again. The Russian political experiment begun in 1917 has tried crude catastrophic Socialism only to be forced back by inexorable facts into the Fabian methods prescribed by Shaw and Webb. Many of his Shavian suggestions that seemed subversively revolutionary or fantastic when he first put them forward are now commonplaces, though the old view of their author still persists long after its basis has dissolved. In any case they interest and are understood by few, whereas there is a relatively enormous publicity for his exploits as a playwright. How he will stand in future centuries cannot be foreseen. He himself was fond of saying that reputations that are not for an age but for all time mean world stagnation, and that the sooner he is forgotten the better. It remains to be seen whether the memory of the man who survived five reigns will survive fifty."

Having completed the obituary I forwarded it to G.B.S., then at Ayot St. Lawrence. He kept it for several weeks, and when I demanded its return he sent it back with so many corrections and additions that I rebelled, and recorded my own version.


18. PILGRIMS AT AYOT

IN THE autumn of 1945 I was writing a book with my friend Hugh Kingsmill, and it occurred to us that we might include in it an account of a visit to Shaw; so I wrote to say we would like to see him. One of his little peculiarities was a pretence that he could only spare time to see people on business; but I knew that was nonsense, and when he did not reply within three or four days I sent him a wire which ran: "What the hell! Unless you forward doctor's certificate, expect us on Monday." Immediately on receipt of this he rang me up to say he was expecting us, and on November 5 we motored down to Ayot. On the way I recalled that the last time I was there Shaw told me that he had once made a speech in his native town of Dublin. "I addressed the Gaelic League," he said, "and annoyed them very much by claiming that I wrote in a language understood by at least three hundred million people in preference to one that could be read by at most three million. I was subjected to a good deal of heckling, and there were attempts to shout me down. I stood it for a time, but at last determined that either I or the noise must stop. So I warned them: 'If you won't listen to me quietly, I'll make the rest of my speech in Gaelic, and not one of you will understand a syl-

-88-

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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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