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Bernard Shaw at the moment seems to be under a critical cloud: lip service is paid to his memory, but inevitably his plays are no longer the revolutionary force they once were, as evidenced by the conversion of Pygmalion into My Fair Lady- Curiously enough, while the dramas his greatest monument- are neglected, his long-forgotten prose works appear to be finding fresh favor among the intelligentsia. The Matter With Ireland is the latest to be resurrected, and this collection of pieces ranks with his best. They are largely journalistic and cover the period from 1886 to 1950, and we find the sage of Ayot St. Lawrence wondrously engaging: the rhetoric sparkles, the mind pierces, even dead issues take fire. Ireland one can assume was Shaw's pet love and pet hate; while calling his native land ""an incorrigible beggar"" he could be gallantly irrational in the conviction that she housed the Chosen Pace. He would fulminate against the Church and the fact ""that every book worth reading was on the index"" -- and still honor its claims to the Emerald Isle. He wrote movingly of Dublin slums, but was bitingly contemptuous of the Gaelic tongue. He fought for Home Rule but disapproved of of her neutrality during the last war. Historically it would seem his score was good: he defended the right people and the right events. He wanted for his not Charity but Justice. Economic necessity was the nation's necessity. He termed nationalism ""a mode of aggressive self-consciousness"". He suggested that England could not do without Ireland since England needed ""at least a little sanity"". Here is wisdom and wit in a Shavian treat.

Publisher: Hill & Wang