Logos Multilingual Portal

Select Language



George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)  Shaw was born in Dublin of Protestant Irish stock. His mother was a talented amateur singer; his father was a corn trader. His education was irregular, due to his dislike of any organized training. After working in an estate agent's office for a while he moved to London as a young man (1876), where he established himself as a leading music and theatre critic.
From 1879-1903, Shaw was a councillor for the London borough of St Pancras, getting practical experience of social problems in local government. All his life he remained interested in questions of social reform.
In 1884, he joined the Fabian Society where he met Sidney Webb and joined him in his attempt to make socialism respectable. Shaw became famous as a socialist agitator, speaking publicly (and for no fee) all over London, once or twice a week for the next 12 years.
He began his literary career as a novelist; as a fervent advocate of the new theatre of Ibsen (The Quintessence of Ibsenism, 1891) he decided to write plays in order to illustrate his criticism of the English stage. His earliest dramas were called appropriately Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant (1898). Shaw's radical rationalism, his utter disregard of conventions, his keen dialectic interest and verbal wit often turn the stage into a forum of ideas. He wrote lengthy stage directions and character descriptions, more in the style of a novel than a play, as they were read - and admired - but deemed unsuitable for stage performance. Only in the Twenties they began to be accepted and appreciated by the public.
It is a combination of the dramatic, the comic, and the social corrective that gives Shaw's comedies their special flavour. In the plays of his later period discussion sometimes drowns the drama, in Back to Methuselah (1921), although in the same period he worked on his masterpiece Saint Joan (1923), in which he rewrites the well-known story of the French maiden and extends it from the Middle Ages to the present.
Other important plays by Shaw are Caesar and Cleopatra (1901), a historical play filled with allusions to modern times, and Androcles and the Lion (1912), in which he exercised a kind of retrospective history and from modern movements drew deductions for the Christian era. In Major Barbara (1905), one of Shaw's most successful ┬źdiscussion┬╗ plays, the audience's attention is held by the power of the witty argumentation that man can achieve aesthetic salvation only through political activity, not as an individual. The Doctor's Dilemma (1906), facetiously classified as a tragedy by Shaw, is really a comedy the humour of which is directed at the medical profession. Candida (1898), with social attitudes toward sex relations as objects of his satire, and Pygmalion (1912), a witty study of phonetics as well as a clever treatment of middle-class morality and class distinction, proved some of Shaw's greatest successes on the stage. In 1925 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Shaw accepted the honour but refused the money.
Shaw's complete works appeared in thirty-six volumes between 1930 and 1950, the year of his death. He died at the age of 94, whilst pruning an apple tree.
".

a learned man is an idler who kills time by study - George Bernard Shaw
democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve - George Bernard Shaw
democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few - George Bernard Shaw
do not do unto others as you would that they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same - George Bernard Shaw
do not try to live forever. You will not succeed - George Bernard Shaw
don\'t wait for the right opportunity: create it - George Bernard Shaw
England and America are two countries divided by a common language - George Bernard Shaw
every change in our laws takes money out of somebody\'s pocket and puts it into somebody else\'s - George Bernard Shaw
Hegel was right when he said that we learn from history that man can never learn anything from history - George Bernard Shaw
I am surely mad; but if I am not, then neither should the others be free - George Bernard Shaw
I never expect a soldier to think - George Bernard Shaw
instead of abolishing the rich, we must abolish the poor - George Bernard Shaw
it is dangerous to be sincere unless you are also stupid - George Bernard Shaw
liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it - George Bernard Shaw
love consists of overestimating the differences between one woman and another - George Bernard Shaw
no man fully capable of his own language ever masters another - George Bernard Shaw
patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all others because you were born in it - George Bernard Shaw
the fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact than a drunken man is happier than a sober one - George Bernard Shaw
the more things a man is ashamed of, the more respectable he is - George Bernard Shaw
the only time my education was interrupted was when I was in school - George Bernard Shaw
the perfect love affair is one which is conducted entirely by post (George Bernard Shaw)
the power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it - George Bernard Shaw
the things most people want to know about are usually none of their business - George Bernard Shaw
there are no secrets better kept than the secrets that everybody guesses - George Bernard Shaw
there is no sincerer love than the love of food - George Bernard Shaw
we have no more right to consume happiness without producing it than to consume wealth without producing it - George Bernard Shaw
when a man wants to murder a tiger, it\'s called sport; when the tiger wants to murder him, it\'s called ferocity (George Bernard Shaw)
when two people are under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive, and most transient of passions, they are required to swear that they will remain in that excited, abnormal, and exhausting condition continuously until death do them part - George Bernard Shaw
you are going to let the fear of poverty govern your life and your reward will be that you will eat, but you will not live - George Bernard Shaw