Email this review


Edwin Wilson has gathered together all he could find by George Bernard Shaw on the subject of Shakespeare, organized it mainly under the titles of individual plays, with additional sections on The Man, the Philosopher, the Dramatist, and The Interpreters, and summed it up in Shaw's own puppet-play, Shakes Vs Shaw. He has done more than digest Shaw's criticisms for a new generation--he has juxtaposed material from many sources to present views as fully as possible. Under Cymbeline, for instance, he gives the reader not only Shaw's letters to Ellen Terry on how to play the part of Imogen, but his final review of the production under discussion and his revision of Shakespeare's fifth act. Not all the plays are covered in this depth: ten are missing altogether, including The Merchant of Venice, and several plays, like King Lear, are given only a brief paragraph. Shaw admired the music of Shakespeare's language and his theatrical sense, while deploring him as a second-rate thinker, a thesis that may annoy many ""bardolators"" in this country. He waged a ceaseless war against both the British idolatry of Shakespeare and their practice of cutting his plays to pieces for production, and made his points with his customary wit and sense of theatrical detail. Although Shaw's own sometimes questionable philosophy peeks through his cogent points, the book is well worth reading by all those with any appreciation of the theatre or of English literature, as well as by those who merely wish to be entertained.

Pub Date: April 28th, 1961
Publisher: Dutton