Cover

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Frontmatter

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Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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p. vii

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Notes & Acknowledgments

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p. viii

SINCE SHAW’S idiosyncratic spelling and punctuation are known to many but not to everyone, a note about them is warranted. Shaw spells some words in the American rather than British way (“labor,” for instance, rather than...

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1. Duty Bound and Duty Free

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pp. 1-9

IN 1879, WITHIN TEN DAYS of each other, two very different theatrical works received their first productions, Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance and Ibsen’s A Doll House, coincidentally in countries other than their authors’ native...

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2. Unpleasant and Pleasant Plays

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pp. 10-19

SHAW’S IMMERSION in and crusade in behalf of Ibsen’s drama was not confined to his lecture on Ibsen and his book about Ibsen’s plays. For instance, he wrote three articles about A Doll House, including a review of its production in June...

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3. Puritans and a Prizefighter

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pp. 20-24

IN SHAW’S next collection of plays, Three Plays for Puritans—consisting of The Devil’s Disciple (1896), Cæsar and Cleopatra (1898) and Captain Brassbound’s Conversion (1899)—as well as his play about a prizefighter, which follows them, he continues to mine...

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4. “The Big Three”

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pp. 25-37

IN A PRESS RELEASE drafted for the first American production of Major Barbara in 1915, Shaw called this comedy the third of three plays— the others being Man and Superman (1902) and John Bull’s Other Island— “of exceptional weight and magnitude...

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5. Late Edwardian Plays

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pp. 38-54

STRICTLY SPEAKING, the Edwardian era covers the reign of Queen Victoria’s son King Edward VII, from January 1901, after her death, to May 1910, when he died. However, historians and writers of literature and culture are not always so strict...

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6. Plays of the War Years

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pp. 55-62

IT WOULD BE as inaccurate to call the ironically titled Arms and the Man an anti-war play as it would be to call it an anti-love play. As Michael Holroyd reminds us, Shaw changed its subtitle from A Romantic Comedy to...

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7. An Allegory, An Adaptation, and A Different War

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pp. 63-72

IN THE FIRST FEW YEARS of the 1920s, Shaw did not treat the themes of slavery to duty and tricks of the governing class in terms of World War I. Nevertheless, he pointedly has Reverend Haslam in Part II (“The Gospel of the Brothers Barnabas”) of his allegory...

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8. Plays During Hard Times

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pp. 73-95

WHEREAS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM the term “Hard Times” is generally taken to refer to the novel by Charles Dickens, in America it is a reference to the Great Depression, which in the United Kingdom is also called the Great...

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9. Parables and Playfulness

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pp. 96-107

AFTER JESUS addressed the multitudes, his disciples asked why he spoke to them in parables. “Because,” came the reply, “it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.” The multitudes “seeing see...

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10. Slaves of Duty, Moral Duty, and Other Tricks of the Governing Class

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pp. 108-119

OF THE FIFTY-ONE OR FIFTY-TWO PLAYS in what is usually considered the official Shavian canon, to which I would add a fifty-third, The Inauguration Speech—An Interlude, thirty-seven (of which my fifty-third play is not one...

Notes

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pp. 120-133

Index

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pp. 134-139