English Literature in the Twentieth Century

By J. W. Cunliffe | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
GEORGE BERNARD SHAW (1856- )

THE most important literary event of the twentieth century was the revival of English comedy under the leadership of Bernard Shaw. The British drama in the nineteenth century had sunk to a depth of decay now hard to realize. In the theatre of the second half of the century, George Henry Lewes testifies, the public looked only for sentimental claptrap, jingles, dances, costumes, bare necks, and grimaces. Matthew Arnold, writing in 1879, said: "In Englandn we have no drama at all. Our vast society is not homogeneous enough, not sufficiently united, even any large portion of it, in a common view of life, a common ideal capable of serving as basis for a modern English Drama." William Archer, who about this time was labouring for the regeneration of the theatre by translating Ibsen and contributing intelligent dramatic criticism to the London press, when he reflected on these endeavours forty years later, confessed that he was "puzzled to conceive how anyone with the smallest pretension to intelligence could in those years seriously occupy himself with the English theatre." Another famous London dramatic critic, A. B. Walkley, stigmatized the theatre of the early Victorian period as without ideas, so ephemeral, so paltry and jejune, that it was impossible to think of it without a yawn. "One shrinks from dwelling on this tedious theme." Even in 1904, when the revival

-45-

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English Literature in the Twentieth Century
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Chapter I - Introductory 1
  • Chapter II - Victorian Survivors 21
  • Bibliography 36
  • Chapter III - George Bernard Shaw (1856- ) 45
  • Bibliography 86
  • Chapter IV - Shaw's Successors 89
  • Bibliography - (dates of Production) 99
  • Chapter V - The Irish Renaissance 100
  • Bibliography 122
  • Chapter VI - Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) 125
  • Bibliography 137
  • Chapter VII - Herbert George Wells (1866- ) 139
  • Bibliography 161
  • Chapter VIII - John Galsworthy (1867-1933) 163
  • Bibliography 183
  • Chapter IX - Arnold Bennett (1867-1931) 185
  • Bibliography 199
  • Chapter X - Georgian Novelists 201
  • Bibliography 254
  • Chapter XI - Essays, Journalism and Travel 259
  • Chapter XII - Lytton Strachey 281
  • Chapter XIII - Masefield and the New Georgian Poets 292
  • Bibliography 330
  • Index 335
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