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George Bernard Shaw by G. K. Chesterton

George Bernard Shaw (1909)

by G. K. Chesterton

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The cleverest man in all the world, with the second cleverest as his subject, is here doing his cleverest writing. The result is a volume as diverting as Nietzsche’s Also Sprach Zarathustra, and as obviously unauthentic. It belongs, not to history, but to philosophic fable...

On the credit side, Mr. Chesterton finds three high and honorable services. Number one is the service of making philosophy intelligible and popular; number two is that of stirring up the philosophical animals, and number three is that of obliterating the mere cynic, with his ineffective sneers. Without entering into a long consideration of Mr. Chesterton’s exposition and demonstration of these ideas, I may be permitted to record, perhaps, my modest conviction that only the second of his trio of services has any real existence.
added by SnootyBaronet | editThe Smart Set, H. L. Mencken
This book is what everybody expected it to be: the best work of literary art I have yet provoked. It is a fascinating portrait study; and I am proud to have been the painter’s model...

As a picture, in the least personal and most phenomenal sense, it is very fine indeed. As an account of my doctrine, it is either frankly deficient and uproariously careless or else recalcitrantly and (I repeat) madly wrong... My last word must be that, gifted as he is, he needs a sane Irishman to look after him. For this portrait essay beginning with the insanity of beer for beer’s sake does not stop short of the final far madder lunacy of absurdity for absurdity’s sake.
added by SnootyBaronet | editThe Nation, George Bernard Shaw (Aug 25, 1909)
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Introduction to the First Edition

Most people either say that they agree with Bernard Shaw or that they do not understand him. I am the only person who understands him, and I do not agree with him.
The Problem of a Preface

A peculiar difficulty arrests the writer of this rough study at the very start.
The English public has commonly professed, with a kind of pride, that it cannot understand Mr. Bernard Shaw.
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"Most people either say that they agree with Bernard Shaw or that they do not understand him. I am the only person who understands him, and I do not agree with him." --G.K.C.

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