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BOOK REVIEWS Carrington's biography. New, from the Dunham Papers, is this picture of a tide-rip after a gale: "It reminded me somehow of a nest of serpents wriggling or of an ermine cloak made of live weasels lying on their backs and squealing because they couldn't rise." Lisa Lewis ______________ Oxon, England A Portrait of Shaw Stanley Weintraub. Shaw's People: Victoria to Churchill. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1996. 255 pp. $29.50 IN HIS DISTINGUISHED career as literary critic, historian, biographer, and editor, Stanley Weintraub has contributed a wealth of information about and significant insights into the life and times of Bernard Shaw. The range of these contributions is astonishing. Weintraub biographies include political figures (Queen Victoria, Disraeli) as well as artists (Beardsley, Whistler, the four Rossettis); in addition, there are historical/critical studies of the art scene, the theater, and the socio-political ambience of late-nineteenth century and early twentiethcentury England. In Shaw studies, Weintraub has given us Shaw's diaries, numerous collections of Shaw's writings and writings about him, and important biographical works in Private Shaw and Public Shaw: A Dual Portrait of Lawrence of Arabia and GB.S. (1963) and Journey to Heartbreak: Bernard Shaw 1914-1918 (1971). In his most recent work on Shaw, Weintraub continues in a collection of biographical essays his exploration of Shaw's paradoxical personality. The approach to Shaw's personality is through a study of his relationship to other people, selected from a variety of friends, acquaintances, and hangers-on in Shaw's long life. These include (in the order of their appearance in the book) Queen Victoria, Oscar Wilde, General William Booth (founder of the Salvation Army), H. L. Mencken, Edith Adams, William Butler Yeats, James Joyce, Frank Harris, T. E. Lawrence, Sean O'Casey, Siegfried Trebitsch (Shaw's German translator), and Winston Churchill. Each of the essays in the collection has appeared elsewhere in print but all of them have been revised, updated, and sometimes rewritten for Shaw's People. The effect of the collection is prismatic: each view shows a facet of a complex personality which may or may not be compatible with a single, integrated view. We are left with glimpses of a personality, as Weintraub says, "replete with paradoxes." There is the political radical admiring conservatives; the Irish writer often out of harmony with other Irish writers; the frugal millionaire, jealously 203 ELT 40:2 1997 guarding his property rights yet sometimes giving money generously (and in several striking instances encouraging literary parasites). In the midst of biographical insights, Shaw's People contains a good deal of literary criticism, often in the form of suggestions about sources for characters in Shaw's plays. For example, in "Exasperated Admiration : Bernard Shaw on Queen Victoria," Weintraub suggests parallels between Shaw's Caesar and Victoria's first prime minister, Melbourne, in that both men tutor (and intrigue) a young queen. Weintraub finds other echoes of Victoria's court in Caesar and Cleopatra, arguing that the play is written on two levels of time—the historical past and Victorian England. In "A Jennifer from Australia: Edith Adams, Her Husband, and The Doctor's Dilemma," Shaw's creative process is explored in speculation about possible sources for Louis and Jennifer Dubedat. Shaw met the artist Francis Adams and his wife Edith in 1893, when Francis was dying of tuberculosis; after Francis' death—which was stranger than Shaw's fictional version of Dubedat's death—Shaw continued a friendship with the fascinating, enigmatic Edith. The essay '"Lawrence of Arabia': Bernard Shaw's Other Saint Joan" argues, as the title indicates, that T. E. Lawrence was an inspiration and model for Shaw's Joan. Both Lawrence and Joan had "immense appetites for glory .. . abilities to put people in their pockets ... [and a] knack for unconventional strategy unconventionally set forth." It is well known that Lawrence, a close friend of both Bernard and Charlotte Shaw, served as a model for Private Meek in Too True to Be Good; but Weintraub makes an equally persuasive case for the parallels between the ascetic, adventurous, imaginative medieval saint and the modern hero. In his comments on Too True to...


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pp. 203-206
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Will Be Archived 2021
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