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“Plays Pleasant” is a collection of four plays by George Bernard Shaw, first published in 1898: Arms and the Man; Candida; The Man of Destiny; and, You Never Can Tell.One of Bernard Shaw’s most glittering comedies, Arms and the Man is a burlesque of Victorian attitudes to heroism, war and empire. In the contrast between Bluntschli, the mercenary soldier, and the brave leader, Sergius, the true nature of valour is revealed. Shaw mocks deluded idealism in Candida, when a young poet becomes infatuated with the wife of a Socialist preacher. The Man of Destiny is a witty war of words between Napoleon and a ‘strange lady’, while in the exuberant farce You Never Can Tell a divided family is reunited by chance. Although Shaw intended “Plays Pleasant” to be gentler comedies than those in their companion volume, “Plays Unpleasant”, their prophetic satire is sharp and provocative.George Bernard Shaw is one of the world’s greatest literary figures.
Acerca de George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw (1856 – 1950). Irish playwright, author, political activist.George Bernard Shaw was born in Dublin 1856. He was sent to various schools in Dublin but developed a great dislike for the formalised education systems and widespread use of corporal punishment which was prevalent at the time.After working as a clerk in Dublin for several years, in 1876, Shaw left for London to join his mother who was living there. In London, he began reading extensively and writing his first novels. He also became increasingly devoted to the ideals of socialism. He joined the Fabian society and became one of its leading writers and activists, inspiring and helping activists such as Annie Besant. With fellow Fabians such as Sidney and Beatrice Webb, he helped found the London School of Economics (LSE) after receiving private bequests.In 1898 he married Charlotte Payne Townshend, a fellow Irish Fabian. The marriage was never consummated and they remained childless. In 1906, they moved to Ayot St Lawrence in Hertfordshire, where they lived for the remainder of their lives.By the 1890s, Shaw’s plays were being performed in London. The income from his plays enabled him to devote his life to writing. Like his contemporary, Oscar Wilde, Shaw’s plays were popular for their biting wit and humour. His plays were in contrast to many Victorian plays which tended to be sentimental, escapist and lacking in satire. Shaw wrote he was influenced by Henrik Ibsen who helped pioneer more realistic modern drama.As a committed Socialist, Shaw infused his plays with his concepts of social justice and issues of class. For example, one of his best known plays Pygmalion (1912-13) (later made into a film and musical My Fair Lady) deals with the class divide which characterised British society at the time. However, to the disappointment of Shaw, his plays were mainly enjoyed as entertainment, rather than political commentary.As well as plays, Shaw wrote novels, short stories and was a noted literary critic. In particular, he was influential in criticising the Victorian preference for performing edited Shakespeare plays.By the start of the First World War, Shaw was a well-known playwright, so his strident opposition to the First World War gained him much criticism. He felt governments had coerced the population into needless wars. In Heartbreak House (1919) he said: “It is said that every people has the Government it deserves. It is more to the point that every Government has the electorate it deserves; for the orators of the front bench can edify or debauch an ignorant electorate at will. Thus our democracy moves in a vicious circle of reciprocal worthiness and unworthiness.”
George Bernard Shaw
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