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An Unsocial Socialist by George Bernard Shaw
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An Unsocial Socialist (1884)

by George Bernard Shaw

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Shaw's main character certainly is unsocial. He says very pertinent things about the unfairness of the social order. He says reasonable things about the unimportance of romance. But he seems over all to say that emotions are unnecessary, art is a fraud, reason is the only thing that counts and humanity is hopeless. Read the first 2/3 of the book to get some great quotes about socialism, then feel free to go about your way elsewhere. ( )
  Citizenjoyce | Sep 8, 2012 |
Sometimes you see something you missed in your life of reading.
GBS was one of those. He was only an icon to me with a pointy beard, no longer popular, especially with the hip and then hippie set. I only knew of him thru references on Sesame Street –Miss Piggy-malion--and reading the credits to My Fair Lady.

So last week I ran into him lying on a shelf in the local library, an edition about 60 years old. Why not?
GBS was witty and could write dialogue for Bringing up Baby or any of the fast talking, screwball comedies. Oh, I forgot, they copied him, not the other way around.

How class-bound England was/is. Sometimes I forget about social class when I hang out in Silicon Valley (where they hide their fancy-pants au-pairs and yardmen). Those Victorians cemented class but left cracks for upward money. And you forget how eccentric and extreme-edge political those landed lords (and their lesser cousins) could be without disrupting upper class manners.

GBS writes polemics about mistreatment of the working class in the middle of snappy dialog. But readers skipped those pages to get to the characters spitting it out at each other as they danced around rituals of love and old fashioned hate, too.
You see how socialism was perceived b4 the communists took over Russia and hatched Stalin. GBS watched England losing its markets for manufactured goods because the rest of the world made things cheaper and predicted an England going broke. (sounds familiar?) , where they could only export workers. He didn’t forsee our overstuffed world and ad-driven continuous style-change buying that remade the world in its own image.

He sought a moral force that was rational. Religion was hocus-pocus; the church was just finishing up dealing with Galileo and the Pope declared himself infallible. GBS looked for non-revolutionary change to a more equitable world thru education. And he started the London School of Economics to explain it all.

In this book, GBS creates the rational man as hero, the anti-romantic, that would have been a detective if he were born in the 40’s, I bet. And the tough thinking woman could be played by Kate Hepburn or maybe Becky Sharpe if she gets incarnated in the computer game world. These two finally marry after his first wife sentimentally dies off and they accidentally get engaged in about a paragraph and realize love would only mess things up.

Hope I didn’t mess up the ending for you. ( )
  kerns222 | Jun 26, 2011 |
Schoolgirl hijinks in late 19th century England, linked via some love interest, to a bit of activism for socialism. The politics of a bygone era are now not much of a distraction from a good story, in the way they may have been at the time of its first publication, when said politics were more current. ( )
  JoS.Wun | Jan 30, 2010 |
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In the dusk of an October evening, a sensible-looking woman of forty came out through an oaken door to a broad landing on the first floor of an old English country-house.
When Shaw came to London in 1876 at the age of almost twenty, he believed that he had turned his back on failure, poverty, obscurity, ostracism and contempt - which was "all that Dublin offered to the enormity of my unconscious ambition." (Introduction)
Thus, the last Novels Of My Nonage, is, according to my original design, only the first chapter of a vast work depicting capitalist society in dissolution, with its downfall as the final grand catastrophe. (Foreword)
My Dear Sir - I find that my friends are not quite satisfied with the account you have given them in your clever novel entitled An Unsocial Socialist. (Appendix - Letter to the Author from Mr. Sidney Trefusis)
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"Do you know what a pessimist is?" "A man who thinks everybody is as nasty as himself, and hates them for it."
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140162178, Paperback)

In the dusk of an October evening, a sensible looking woman of forty came out through an oaken door to a broad landing on the first floor of an old English country-house. A braid of her hair had fallen forward as if she had been stooping over book or pen; and she stood for a moment to smooth it, and to gaze contemplatively - not in the least sentimentally - through the tall, narrow window. The sun was setting, but its glories were at the other side of the house; for this window looked eastward, where the landscape of sheepwalks and pasture land was sobering at the approach of darkness.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:58 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In the dusk of an October evening, a sensible looking woman of forty came out through an oaken door to a broad landing on the first floor of an old English country-house. A braid of her hair had fallen forward as if she had been stooping over book or pen; and she stood for a moment to smooth it, and to gaze contemplatively-not in the least sentimentally-through the tall, narrow window. The sun was setting, but its glories were at the other side of the house; for this window looked eastward, where the landscape of sheepwalks and pasture land was sobering at the approach of darkness. The lady, like one to whom silence and quiet were luxuries, lingered on the landing for some time. Then she turned towards another door, on which was inscribed, in white letters, Class Room No. 6. Arrested by a whispering above, she paused in the doorway, and looked up the stairs along a broad smooth handrail that swept round in an unbroken curve at each landing, forming an inclined plane from the top to the bottom of the house. A young voice, apparently mimicking someone, now came from above, saying, "We will take the Etudes de la Velocite next, if you please, ladies." Immediately a girl in a holland dress shot down through space; whirled round the curve with a fearless centrifugal toss of her ankle; and vanished into the darkness beneath. She was followed by a stately girl in green, intently holding her breath as she flew; and also by a large young woman in black, with her lower lip grasped between her teeth, and her fine brown eyes protruding with excitement. Her passage created a miniature tempest which disarranged anew the hair of the lady on the landing, who waited in breathless alarm until two light shocks and a thump announced that the aerial voyagers had landed safely in the hall.… (more)

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