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Bernard Shaw: A Biography (edition 1998)
Bernard Shaw: The One-Volume Definitive Edition by Shaw George Bernard (Author)
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375500499, Hardcover)Michael Holroyd is the distinguished British biographer of writer Lytton Strachey (whose life formed the basis of the film Carrington) as well as the painter Augustus John. But his voluminous biography of writer George Bernard Shaw--the author of Pygmalion (made into the musical My Fair Lady)--originally published in four volumes, is probably his masterwork. This newly abridged one-volume edition has the virtue of cutting the documentation--which will be missed only by other scholars on Shaw--and is aimed squarely at the general reader, who will find here an entertaining survey with a wide base of interest. Unlike other recent books on Shaw that focus on a single aspect such as sexuality or politics, Holroyd's apporach is general, and quite successful. One feels that the biographer has grasped what was important to Shaw at each crucial moment of his life. Thus the biography becomes a kind of companion to the life, discreetly pointing out features of interest, but never overimposing Holroyd's own personality, though there are some witty details inserted--such as those about Shaw's estate in recent years--that indicate Holroyd's dry wit. Although not short at 704 pages, there are no longueurs, and this book may be called Brit biography at its best, a must for literature collections. Long live G.B.S.! --Benjamin Ivry
(retrieved from Amazon Fri, 04 Jan 2013 18:23:33 -0500)
When Michael Holroyd's multivolume life of Bernard Shaw was published, it was hailed as a masterpiece. Now the biography is available for the first time in a lively and accessible abridgment by the author. Playwright, wit, socialist, polemicist, vegetarian, and irresistible charmer, Bernard Shaw was the most controversial literary figure of his age, the scourge of Victorian values and middle-class pretensions. At the turn of the century, Shaw was in his prime, a theatrical impresario and author of those great campaigning plays - Man and Superman, Major Barbara, The Doctor's Dilemma, and John Bull's Other Island -that used laughter as an anesthetic for the operation he performed on British society. By 1914 the author of Pygmalion was the most popular writer in England, and increasingly recognized throughout Europe and America.The reluctant recipient of a Nobel Prize for literature and an Academy Award for his screenplay for Pygmalion, Shaw became an international icon between the two world wars, feted from China and Soviet Russia to India and New Zealand, though still contriving to provoke the establishment in the United States, South Africa, and Ireland. He revealed himself increasingly as conjurer, fabulist, and seer through his powerful late works, including Saint Joan, the Chekhovian Heartbreak House, the modernist fantasy Back to Methuselah, and the imaginative dream plays and political extravaganzas.
(summary from another edition)
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