Pygmalion's Wordplay: The Postmodern Shaw (Florida Bernard Shaw)

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9780813016818: Pygmalion's Wordplay: The Postmodern Shaw (Florida Bernard Shaw)
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"An illuminating meditation on postmodernist elements in Pygmalion . . . it offers valuable insights into Shaw's ways of thinking about and representing experience."--Jonathan Wisenthal, University of British ColumbiaIn the first book-length treatment of Bernard Shaw as a postmodern writer, Jean Reynolds offers a fresh interpretation of Pygmalion, one of Shaw's most enduring plays. Challenging widely held assumptions about Shaw, she maintains that he critiqued conventional notions about language and psychology long before such iconoclasts as Jacques Derrida and James Hillman came on the scene.
 Reynolds calls Pygmalion "the Shavian creation myth" and compares Henry Higgins's struggle to transform a bedraggled flower girl into a duchess to Shaw's reinvention of himself as the larger-than-life G.B.S. who entertained and edified an immense readership.
 Reynolds argues that long before Derrida, Karl Marx's ideas about language were a powerful influence on Shaw. In Pygmalion, Shaw topples the "binary oppositions," as Derrida calls them, that characterize Western thought: essence versus appearance, speech versus writing, authenticity versus performance. Reynolds exposes a metaphysical debate in the conflicts between Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins that repeats itself in Shaw's conflicts with his public, which often misunderstood his penchant for role-playing and rhetorical flamboyance.
 Pygmalion's Wordplay reveals an unexpected side of Shaw--his acute insight into linguistic and psychological concepts that dominate postmodern thought--that will be provocative to Shavians and Derrideans alike. Jean Reynolds is professor of English at Polk Community College in Winter Haven, Florida. She is the author of two textbooks, Succeeding in College and Sentence Power, and has published articles in such journals as SHAW: The Annual of Shaw Studies and the Anglo-Welsh Review.

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