More from and about
George Bernard Shaw
(biographical info at bottom of page)

  

Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others
without getting a few drops on yourself.

   

People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are.  I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can't find them, make them.
  
  
A day's work is a day's work, neither more nor less, and the one who does it needs a day's sustenance, a night's repose and due leisure, whether he or she be a painter or a ploughman.

      
This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
  
Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.
  
  
We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.
   

The secret of being miserable is to have leisure to bother about whether you are happy or not. The cure for it is occupation, because occupation means pre-occupation; and the pre-occupied person is neither happy nor unhappy, but simply alive and active. That is why it is necessary to happiness that one should be tired.

     

A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable,
but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.

   

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The most tragic thing in the world is a person of genius who is not a person of honor.

   

That is the injustice of a woman's lot. A woman has to bring up
her children; and that means to restrain them, to deny them
things they want, to set them tasks, to punish them when they
do wrong, to do all the unpleasant things. And then the father,
who has nothing to do but pet them and spoil them, comes in
when all her work is done and steals their affection from her.

   

You are going to let the fear of poverty govern your life and
your reward will be that you will eat, but you will not live.

   
    
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) was born in Dublin, the son of a civil servant. His education was irregular, due to his dislike of any organized training. After working in an estate agent's office for a while he moved to London as a young man (1876), where he established himself as a leading music and theatre critic in the eighties and nineties and became a prominent member of the Fabian Society, for which he composed many pamphlets. He began his literary career as a novelist; as a fervent advocate of the new theatre of Ibsen (The Quintessence of Ibsenism, 1891) he decided to write plays in order to illustrate his criticism of the English stage. His earliest dramas were called appropriately Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant (1898). Among these, Widower's Houses and Mrs. Warren's Profession savagely attack social hypocrisy, while in plays such as Arms and the Man and The Man of Destiny the criticism is less fierce. Shaw's radical rationalism, his utter disregard of conventions, his keen dialectic interest and verbal wit often turn the stage into a forum of ideas, and nowhere more openly than in the famous discourses on the Life Force, "Don Juan in Hell", the third act of the dramatization of woman's love chase of man, Man and Superman (1903).

In the plays of his later period discussion sometimes drowns the drama, in Back to Methuselah (1921), although in the same period he worked on his masterpiece Saint Joan (1923), in which he rewrites the well-known story of the French maiden and extends it from the Middle Ages to the present.

Other important plays by Shaw are Caesar and Cleopatra (1901), a historical play filled with allusions to modern times, and Androcles and the Lion (1912), in which he exercised a kind of retrospective history and from modern movements drew deductions for the Christian era. In Major Barbara (1905), one of Shaw's most successful «discussion» plays, the audience's attention is held by the power of the witty argumentation that man can achieve aesthetic salvation only through political activity, not as an individual. The Doctor's Dilemma (1906), facetiously classified as a tragedy by Shaw, is really a comedy the humor of which is directed at the medical profession. Candida (1898), with social attitudes toward sex relations as objects of his satire, and Pygmalion (1912), a witty study of phonetics as well as a clever treatment of middle-class morality and class distinction, proved some of Shaw's greatest successes on the stage. It is a combination of the dramatic, the comic, and the social corrective that gives Shaw's comedies their special flavor.

Shaw's complete works appeared in thirty-six volumes between 1930 and 1950, the year of his death.
  

  

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