The fifteen articles collected in this issue of the SHAW Annual are comprised of two groups: those focusing on a single Shaw play and those dealing with broader issues in a number of his plays and critical writings.
We begin with an account of how the text of Pygmalion was transformed from its first publication in 1916 into two revised editions. Derek McGovern uncovers the extent to which Shaw’s 1939 ending “succeeds in discouraging romantic expectations with regard to the relationship between Higgins and Eliza,” and how Shaw’s inclusion in Penguin’s 1941 “screen edition” of selected scenes from his screenplay “affect his original stage text and encourage the expectation of an Eliza-Freddy marriage.”
Then, to highlight the numerous parallels between Shakespeare’s plays and You Never Can Tell, Shaw’s “first romantic comedy,” Tony Stafford explores the similarities between the playwrights’ use of coincidence, familial situations, comic characters, strong women, and celebratory dénouement—evidence not only of Shaw’s familiarity with Shakespeare but of Shaw’s “deep admiration” for him.
In comparing the structure and characterization of Widowers’ Houses with those of Richard Wagner’s opera Das Rheingold, Hisashi Morikawa draws many parallels between Shaw’s and Wagner’s characters. After considering how Widowers’ Houses relates to Shaw’s analysis of the Ring cycle in The Perfect Wagnerite, he finds that “what Shaw says about Das Rheingold in that essay is consistent with the tenor of his first play.”
Christopher Gray examines how The Devil’s Disciple “challenges melodrama’s theatrical conventions and religious underpinnings” by means of religious iconography: Raphael’s Saint Paul Preaching at Athens, which, according to Shaw’s stage directions, hangs in the Reverend Anderson’s house. The painting, writes Gray, “accents the disruption of the melodramatic plot convention of self-sacrifice as a romantically motivated act, and offers instead the religious idea of Pauline conversion.” [End Page 1]
In the first of two articles on Arms and the Man, Stoyan Tchaprazov analyses the play’s “pervasive Bulgarian presence . . . in the context of contemporaneous Bulgarian history and literature” to show how Shaw’s “supposedly innocent Bulgarian setting . . . exposes the play’s participation in . . . fin-de-siècle Balkanism: the construction of Balkan identity as . . . an improperly civilized ‘other’.” In her article, Katharyn Stober suggests that Raina is not only a New Woman, but also possesses an “Eve” complex, both of these traits recalling “the play’s contemporary issues of xenophobia.” Thus Shaw juxtaposes “Bluntschli’s relationship with the New Woman Raina and Sergius’s relationship with the faux-Victorian Raina.”
According to Bert Cardullo, “critics have not yet fully considered the complex relationship between the formal, classically tragic aspects of The Doctor’s Dilemma and the play as an example of the new drama that Shaw espoused.” After doing so, he finds that “the play really does function as a tragedy—of the most open, abbreviated, unassimilated kind.”
The articles in the second group treat a number of wide-ranging issues, beginning with an exploration by Robert Pierce of Shaw as “a major critic of Shakespeare.” Despite “countless passages of hyperbolic denunciation”—often prefaced by a disclaimer that his attack “is a rhetorical extravagance justified by a strategic purpose”—Shaw, Pierce finds, had a “keen eye for the elements of realistic social and political analysis in Shakespeare’s drama.”
Lawrence Switzky asks, “Although Shaw worked alongside the modernists and the avant-garde, to what extent should we call him a modernist?” He goes on to show how Shaw’s relationship with Futurism and Vorticism provides “a case study of his modernist engagements and his resistance to simple categorization.”
Next come two biographical studies. Rodelle Weintraub surveys the life and personality of that enigmatic figure, Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham, and examines his role as the model for characters in five Shaw plays, while Stanley Weintraub examines, among other affinities, the influence of You Never Can Tell on Noël Coward’s play The Young Idea—“filched unscrupulously” from Shaw, Coward later admitted.
In the first of two articles by Bernard Dukore, the spotlight is “primarily on sequences that fail to use the innovations of Sophocles but instead...