Shaw once said ""the autobiographer is the dog returning to his vomit"" and although he left no formal record of his life, it has been partly reconstructed here from his direct (Sixteen Self Sketches) and indirect (his novels and plays) self-portraits along with diaries kept in the earlier years and letters. ""If a man is a deep writer. . . all his works are confessions."" Mr. Weintraub, whose alert eye and sharp scissors accomplished a comparable continuity in Private Shaw and Public Shaw (T. E. Lawrence and G.B.S.-1963) has permitted that resonant, autodidactic, heterodox and vastly entertaining figure to speak for himself. . . on money, morality, boxing, people (particularly Ellen Terry, Frank Harris, Wilde). . . on his childhood and schooling (the best passages). . . on his years as a music critic (duller) and theatre critic. . . on his ""love affairs,"" most discreetly, which he also called ""philandering"" predating his marriage at 40 ""in which sex had no part""... etc., etc. You might call this surrogate autobiography but it is the first substantial work on Shaw (discounting the R. J. Minney--p. 590) since Hesketh Pearson's biography (still in paperback). And, with footnotes, appendix and editorial insets, the whole becomes the sum of its parts and provides the Quintessence of Shavianism.