Bernard Shaw’s Inspiration His Own Life. Based on Bertrand Russell. Appreciation Study by P S Remesh Chandran.

21.

Bernard Shaw’s Inspiration His Own Life. Based on Bertrand Russell. Appreciation Study by P.S.Remesh Chandran.

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum.

By PSRemeshChandra, 16th May 2011.  Short URL http://nut.bz/160_gv7f/ 

Posted in Wikinut  Essays

 

To know what inspired George Bernard Shaw, the strange and out of the way things in his life need only be just gone through. It is clear that it was his own life that inspired him. It is very interesting to watch the tiny ship of his life navigating the tumultuous seas. Bertrand Russell’s observations on Shaw are the base for this article which is aimed at only elucidating his observations.

Origin of the fine diction and musical rhythm in Shaw’s plays.

A portrait of George Bernard Shaw.

Finding her husband unable to provide for the family, his mother, with her children moved permanently to London. There she supported her family by giving music lessons and singing at concerts. She had a good singing voice and remarkable skills in music. Shaw was schooled in London and there he grew up as an extraordinarily independent intellectual. He gained his love of music from his mother and her friends, which secured for him his first job as a musical critic in a London evening newspaper. Then he became a critic of plays, the essays written during which period were of very high quality and are still being read and praised. A few years later when he began writing plays, his love of music made his sentences rhythmically easy and pleasant to speak and hear. Even the very long speeches in plays like Man and Superman hold our attention due to their musical rhythm and fine diction.

Good laws passed by a few do not make a good society but good people do make good societies.

Shaw’s Corner. He lived here from 1906 to 1950.

Henry George, the author of Progress and Poverty was a very influential American economist who argued that national revenue should be raised by a single tax on land revenues, instead of levying quite a number of taxes on a variety of things. One day Shaw happened to listen to his lecture in a London city hall and joined at once his Fabian Society. Fabians condemned the blood-thirsty revolutions envisioned by the communists and believed that socialism could be achieved only through slow, steady and gradual changes in the social set up. The Fabian Society was destined to powerfully influence the British society and politics during the next forty or fifty years. In the Fabian Society, Shaw came to be acquainted with Mrs. Annie Besant, an ardent supporter of the Indian Independence Movement. As a socialist, Shaw in the beginning believed that good laws could improve and increase human happiness. But as he grew older, he trusted less and less in the power of the Parliament. Good laws passed by a few do not necessarily make a good society, but good people certainly will make good laws. Good men and women are the first thing required in the making of a Good Society.

Equal admiration for St. Joan of Orleans and St. Joseph of Moscow.

A colour poster for Shaw’s play.

His contemporaries had many opportunities to observe Shaw as a controversialist and as a man of Victorian Vanity. According to them, Shaw had three phases in his life. First he was a musical critic, Fabian socialist and novelist. Then world saw him as a writer of comedies in which he intended to lead the world to seriousness through wits. During the third and last phase he appeared as a prophet, demanding equal admiration for ‘St. Joan ofOrleansand St. Joseph of Moscow’. By that time he had lost all distinction between a kind Christian and a cruel communist, which many of his contemporaries disliked.

Acerbity and sharpness, stamps of the personality of Shaw.

Inside Shaw’s movable hut.

Shaw led British Socialism away from Marx. Recent happenings in the Soviet Union prove that he was correct. He attacked the Victorian vanity and humbug with his own vanity and sharp wits. ‘Social Democrats considered him as an incarnation of Satan. He fanned the flames whenever there was a dispute’. In his verbal attacks he was merciless. In a lunch party given in honour of the French philosopher Bergson, he attacked the very theories of Bergson, saying that, “Oh, my dear fellow, I understand your philosophy much better than you do!” When the Czechoslovakian President Masaryk visited London, he asked to see Shaw out of respect for the man. Shaw went to him straight and lectured that the Czechoslovakian foreign policy was very wrong. And without waiting for an answer he stormed out of the dinner venue! He could not hide his vanity and hatred like the true Victorians. He found the effort of hiding vanity wearisome and gave it up when he first burst upon the world. Acerbity and sharpness were his stamps of personality.

More Christian than the Christ.

A View of Bernard Shaw’s Study.

Shaw believed that churches have strayed far from the teachings of Christ. But many things in his character had the force of a religion. Reading the works of the famous English poet Shelley made him think that ‘animals are our fellow creatures, not to be slain for human food’. At twenty five he became a vegetarian. He had a strong sense of the sacredness of animal and human life. He had the purity of life and ate no flesh, drank no alcohol and smoked no tobacco. He was kind and generous to his fellows. He insisted that we have to leave the world a better place than we found it, and that the torch of life should be passed on to the future generations burning more brightly. In this sense he was more a Christian than the Christ.

The universal trio who were anti-scientific thinkers and strict vegetarians.

A scene from Doctor’s Dilemma acted on stage.

Like Gandhi, Shaw may be said to have been an anti scientific thinker. Like Count Leo Tolstoy, he believed that science can give no real account of Man. It is strange and universally known that this threesome remained vegetarians, hostile to vivisection, operation and modern medicine. Samuel Butler, the famous advocate of Creative Evolution was considered by Shaw as a sage. His words were gospels to him. Even Butler’s jokes were taken seriously by Shaw. Both cruelly opposed Darwin. In personal life Shaw was a perfect man who opposed tyranny, blood-shed and cruelty. But as a religious revolutionary he was fierce and abominable. An admirable, dual personality!

A solicitous wife, the luck of all unruly thinkers.

Pygmalion serialized in November 1914.

Shaw derived his great strength from vegetables. He was lucky in getting a very solicitous wife. We have the example of Xanthippe, the wife of Socrates before us who poured a pot of water over the useless and heated head of her husband, always arguing and finding nothing for the family! She was very kind and attentive to him, followed him like a shadow anxious about his health and prepared hearty vegetarian meals for him. Even she was not spared! The household and the neighborhood resounded with his sharp and witty comments about her ancestors.

The more he lived, the more was he inspired by his own life.

Malvern Theatres where Shaw’s many plays staged.

Politics and journalism occupied Shaw till he was forty two. But soon he learned that politics was poly-tricks and journalism was literature in a hurry. Therefore he gave them up and took to creative literature. His earlier works were all focused on genuine social evils such as prostitution, war and religious intolerance and revenge, which touched the lives of a very large number of people. Bernard Shaw did in English what Henrik Ibsen had been doing in the Norwegian. The rich landlords of Victorian vanity considered him as an enemy. The communists considered him as an incarnation of Satan. But the poor began to consider him as a leader and champion of new ways of thought and intellectual freedom. He regarded Ruling as the highest art of all, and in his eyes, most political leaders were blunderers, insufficiently educated in this art. His works were enjoyable to the spectator as well as to the reader. He stands second only to Shakespeare among the English playwrights. Yes, the more he lived, the more was he inspired by his life.

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Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

________________________________

Dear Reader,

You are invited to kindly visit the Author’s Web Site of P.S.Remesh Chandran, Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum at:  

https://sites.google.com/site/timeuponmywindowsill/wiki-nut-articles

Translations of this article in French, German, Spanish and Italian published in Knol.com can be read by clicking here.

http://knol.google.com/k/psremesh-chandran/-/2vin4sjqlcnot/0#collections

Tags

Appreciations, Bertrand Russell, British Essayists And Journalists, British Writers, English Essays, English Literature, English Playwrights, Essays, George Bernard Shaw, Irish Literature, Irish Writers, Life Of Shaw, P S Remesh Chandran, Reviews, Sahyadri Books And Bloom Books Trivandrum, Studies

Meet the author

PSRemeshChandra
Editor of Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Author of several books in English and in Malayalam. And also author of Swan : The Intelligent Picture Book.

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Comments

rama devi nina
16th May 2011 (#)

What an informative and interesting post with excellent pictures, too. Well researched. Thanks for sharing.

Rathnashikamani
16th May 2011 (#)

Wonderful appreciation study by PSRemeshChandra.

I enjoyed reading Pygmalion in 1985 but I didn’t get any chance to watch it on stage or screen.

PSRemeshChandra
16th May 2011 (#)

Dear Rama Devi Nina, Rathnashikamani,
I once had to teach Russell in a B.A. class when I noticed that Russell’s observations on Shaw were from a very close and intimate quarters, being one of his schoolmates I assume, but his presentation of those observations were not of a style that tempt readers to read more and more about Shaw. Therefore I decided then and there to simplify, update and develop his oration, which I gave as a lecture. I consider Shaw second only to Shakespeare, that too, only in conceiving elaborate themes and schemes. It is a pleasure to know that such literary adepts like you enjoyed the work. I will take more care in the future. Thank you both.

Shaw’s Views On Freedom. Re-introduced by P.S.Remesh Chandran.

22.

Shaw’s Views On Freedom. Re-introduced by P S Remesh Chandran.

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum.

 

By PSRemeshChandra, 21st May 2011.  Short URL http://nut.bz/1vq_e18x/
Posted in Wikinut  Essays

 

Bernard Shaw set human minds on fire everywhere. We would be thrilled to even think about the judges, parliament members, writers, academicians and newspaper editors in England, India, America, France, South Africa, New Zealand, Switzerland, China and Russia who very much wished for the head and blood of this acerbic philosopher of wit and wisdom. Shaw’s thoughts on Ultimate Freedom Of Man that infuriated these so called intelligentsia but pleased common people everywhere are reintroduced here.

The fearless intellectual who attacked the Victorian vanity and ostentation.

A colour poster for Shaw’s play.

George Bernard Shaw was a British dramatist, critic and philosopher. He was a Fabian Socialist who led British socialism away from Marx. This fearless intellectual of Irish origin attacked the vanity and ostentation of the English society. Like Gandhi and Leo Tolstoy, he was a staunch vegetarian, bold in his opinions. Arms And The Man, Man And Superman and The Apple Cart are three of his major plays. This article is based on one of his B.B.C. Radio Broadcasts in which he is defining the characteristics of freedom. He is of the opinion that ruling classes talk of freedom for the people but they reserve it only for themselves.

There can never be a perfectly free person theoretically.

A portrait of George Bernard Shaw.

Half the day we are slaves to necessities such as eating, drinking, washing, dressing and undressing. For another one-third of our life time we are slaves to sleep too. So theoretically there can never be a perfectly free person. Chattel slavery is said to have been abolished legally but it continues to be in other forms. Even voting in elections does not liberate a person. Two rich friends ask us for our vote and we have to choose one of the two, which is not real freedom.

Slavery of man to nature is natural but slavery of man to man is unnatural.

The rotating writing hut of Shaw.

Slavery of man to nature is natural whereas slavery of man to man is unnatural. Both are different. Natural wants are slavery indeed but nature is kind to her slaves. Eating, drinking and sleeping are made pleasant experiences. Building families and societies also is made pleasant. ‘We write sentimental songs in praise of them and in England a tramp can earn his supper by singing Home Sweet Home.’ But slavery of man to man is hateful to body and to spirit. In course of time slaves and their masters form their own organizations and enter a civil war known as class war. Karl Marx spent his life proving that slavery of man to man will never stop by itself unless stopped by law. Speaking and oration will not do but everyone has to do his share of the world’s work by his own hands and brain.

That notorious phrase of Shaw, ‘this prodigious mass of humbug.’

A scene from Candida acted on stage.

The combined body of parliaments, legislation, judiciary, literature, education and journalism look to Bernard Shaw as a prodigious mass if humbug which in layman’s terms means Victorian vanity and ostentation. These great institutions of society just promote and help slavery exist and reign in its all forms. They always and everywhere in this world wish to establish and make people think that they are superior to everything and unquestionable. The foolery that is concealed in them is that everywhere in this world people hate these institutions to the depths of their chore. Only the parasites who live by these things would love them. We would be thrilled to even think about the judges, parliament members, writers, academicians and newspaper editors in England, India, America, France, South Africa, New Zealand, Switzerland, China and Russia who very much wished for the head and blood of this philosopher and playwright. But he pleased people everywhere and reflected well their inner feelings. So long as these vain institutions exist in society no absolute and unconditional freedom is possible. These institutions, with the help of a falsified history, snobbery and dishonest politics, through preparatory schools, public schools and universities make citizens think that they are supreme inevitable and of paramount importance. When we read about these lines of Shaw that set human minds on fire everywhere, we should also note that individual freedom of opinion in England at that time was such acute sharp and great that he was not touched. The only other magnificent individual experience of such liberty of not only opinion but action also comes from post- Second World War France of De Gaul where the traffic rules-disobeying Sartre was ordered not to be touched by Surete. When viewed from a distance, those vain institutions Bernard Shaw mention here look really like epithelial corpuscles shed from our body when compared with the ultimate human freedom they imprison and impersonate.

Intellectual slaves of the modern day wish to have an owner and be possessed.

Inside Shaw’s movable writing hut.

Because these great social institutions do not respect real individual freedom and behave always superior to all common citizens at the cost of their internal fury, the inferiors sometimes become bold enough to rise in revolts and upset everything. Some courageous leader who has brain and energy like Napoleon will jump at the chance and become an emperor utilizing the heat of the situation. It has happened inFranceand will happen everywhere else at one time or another. It happened in France not because the people there were autocrat-minded; it was their only way out of intellectual slavery. People everywhere are basically liberty-lovers but the brainwashing by modern social institutions has been such strong and continuous that they have nowadays forgot to revolt. Intellectual slaves in America and Britain will also be willing to vote on ballot papers showing that they are not only revolutionaries but liberty-lovers and democrats also. Occasionally voting becomes a short respite in the long reign of intellectual dependence and submission. Ancient teachers since the time of Aristotle have taught rulers to behave proudly and impress people. In the history of physical comfort we see that people in power won’t sleep in the presence of the public lest their real nature of bestial helplessness and vulnerability would be revealed to the people and all their pride lost. The effect of impressive pride is such strong that modern day slaves find masters indispensable. They wish to have an owner for them. Slaves will not vote for women and women will not vote for women. When voting for women was first introduced in England they utilized it for defeating all women candidates including many who were dedicated to the problems of women. They elected only one woman, no doubt a titled lady of wealth, authority and personality. The slaves have practically no escape from slavishness.

Where there is poverty, we shall not sing about patriotism.

Malvern Theatres where Shaw’s plays were acted.

Human nature is the easiest thing that can be changed. People of England should change their politics through propaganda and education before they get real freedom. Those already schooled in slavery should be de-schooled. Large scale scientific farming and industry will increase national wealth which can also be distributed equally, but too much exploitation of nature through science will backfire. Nature will take her own counter measures in the form of anything, including reverting people’s minds to laziness. Though we can cultivate sky and earth by drawing nitrogen from it to improve the quality of our cattle, grass, milk and eggs, nature may have many tricks up her sleeve to check when we are exploiting her too greedily. This anti-scientific thinker’s comments in this regard are justified. Too much exploitation of nature means too much exploitation of workers which when reach a climax will cause general strikes, thereby dwindling production in their turn. According to Shaw, general strikes are trade unionism gone mad for they halt all production activities. Extravaganza in spending is what deprives production of its usefulness. Shakespeare’s character Eago asked people to put money in their purses and not to take out of it. But people earn the least and spend the most which habit causes poverty. Until poverty is wiped out clean, we shall cease to sing about patriotism because where poverty exists we are not patriots but drones.

What to do with this leisure and riches generated through real freedom?

Shaw’s home at St. Lawrence Herts.

By changing the head and tail of British politics and by freeing it from aristocracy slavery and exploitation, people will begin to get more of leisure and riches. There is a general belief that freedom means more of leisure and more of money to enjoy that leisure which is not true. We have seen the rich and leisurely lose their health and happiness and die gradually. Riches and leisure became poison to them. An idle man’s brain is the Devil’s workshop and Satan will still find mischief for idle hands to do. Thus what to do with the leisure and riches generated through real freedom becomes a riddle which still remains unanswered. Even Bernard Shaw does not dare answer it directly.

________________________________
Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

________________________________

Dear Reader,

You are invited to kindly visit the Author’s Web Site of P.S.Remesh Chandran, Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum at:

https://sites.google.com/site/timeuponmywindowsill/wiki-nut-articles

Translations of this article in French, German, Spanish and Italian published in Knol.com can be read by clicking here.

http://knol.google.com/k/psremesh-chandran/-/2vin4sjqlcnot/0#collections

Tags

Appreciations, British Essayists And Journalists, British Literature, British Writers, English Essays, English Literature, Essays, Freedom, Freedom Of Opinion, Freedom Of Speech, George Bernard Shaw, Liberty Of Speech, P S Remesh Chandran, Political Philosophy, Politics, Re Introductions, Reviews, Sahyadri Books And Bloom Books Trivandrum, Studies

Meet the author

PSRemeshChandra
Editor of Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Author of several books in English and in Malayalam. And also author of Swan : The Intelligent Picture Book.

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