George Bernard Shaw The Philanderer

ISBN 13: 9781507812396

The Philanderer

 
9781507812396: The Philanderer
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Shaw believed that theatre audiences of the 1890s deserved more than the hollow spectacle and sham he saw displayed on the London stage. But he also recognized that people wanted to be entertained while educated, and to see purpose mixed with pleasure. In ‘The Philanderer’ charismatic Leonard Charteris is the philanderer who proposes marriage to Grace, while still involved with the beautiful Julia Craven. But Julia is not inclined to surrender him so easily.

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From the Back Cover:

The second of Shaw’s “unpleasant” plays, written in 1893, published in 1898, but not performed until 1905, The Philanderer is subtitled “A Topical Comedy.” The eclectic range of topical subjects addressed in the play includes the influence of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen on British middle-class social mores (the second act of The Philanderer is set in the fictional Ibsen Club), medical follies, the rise of the “New Woman,” and, in particular, the destructive impact of Victorian marriage and divorce laws. Just as Shaw’s other “unpleasant” plays, Widowers’ Houses and Mrs Warren’s Profession, call, respectively, for reform of laws that allow corrupt property owners to exploit the poor and for radical change to economic structures that drive women into prostitution, so The Philanderer makes the case for more liberal legislation to allow easier divorce―particularly for women―when marriages become irretrievably broken.

Shaw’s attack on divorce laws becomes even clearer and stronger in the final act that he wrote for the play but discarded in favour of the version he published. The discarded version is published for the first time in this Broadview edition of the play.

About the Author:

George Bernard Shaw (26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950), known at his insistence simply as Bernard Shaw, was an Irish playwright, critic and polemicist whose influence on Western theatre, culture and politics extended from the 1880s to his death and beyond. He wrote more than sixty plays, including major works such as Man and Superman (1902), Pygmalion (1912) and Saint Joan (1923). With a range incorporating both contemporary satire and historical allegory, Shaw became the leading dramatist of his generation, and in 1925 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Born in Dublin, Shaw moved to London in 1876, where he struggled to establish himself as a writer and novelist, and embarked on a rigorous process of self-education. By the mid-1880s he had become a respected theatre and music critic. Following a political awakening, he joined the gradualist Fabian Society and became its most prominent pamphleteer. Shaw had been writing plays for years before his first public success, Arms and the Man in 1894. Influenced by Henrik Ibsen, he sought to introduce a new realism into English-language drama, using his plays as vehicles to disseminate his political, social and religious ideas. By the early twentieth century his reputation as a dramatist was secured with a series of critical and popular successes that included Major Barbara, The Doctor's Dilemma and Caesar and Cleopatra. Shaw's expressed views were often contentious; he promoted eugenics and alphabet reform, and opposed vaccination and organised religion. He courted unpopularity by denouncing both sides in the First World War as equally culpable, and although not a republican, castigated British policy on Ireland in the postwar period. These stances had no lasting effect on his standing or productivity as a dramatist; the inter-war years saw a series of often ambitious plays, which achieved varying degrees of popular success. In 1938 he provided the screenplay for a filmed version of Pygmalion, for which he received an Academy Award. His appetite for politics and controversy remained undiminished; by the late 1920s he had largely renounced Fabian gradualism and often wrote and spoke favourably of dictatorships of the right and left—he expressed admiration for both Mussolini and Stalin. In the final decade of his life he made fewer public statements, but continued to write prolifically until shortly before his death, aged ninety-four, having refused all state honours including the Order of Merit in 1946.

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