Bernard Shaw as Artist-Fabian

Charles A. Carpenter

Foreword by R. F. Dietrich, Series Editor
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"A fresh and illuminating study of the Fabian Society's most famous and effective spokesman."--A. M. Gibbs, Macquarie University, Sydney

"Carpenter expertly shows how the largely self-effacing, communitarian Fabians, rather plodding in their research and other methods of reform, found themselves rather uncomfortably joining forces with one of the most remarkable individualists of their day, whose unusual command of the language and often startling use of it on the speaker's platform and the stage persuaded more effectively than any of the less sparkling and less captivating methods of the others."--R. F. Dietrich, series editor

Charles Carpenter provides a new perspective on one of the most puzzling questions faced by Shaw scholars: how to reconcile the artist's individualist leanings with his socialist Fabian ideals. He does so by viewing Shaw as a maverick whose approach was impossible to duplicate and grew out of his unique artistic temperament, his outlook, and his vocation.
Shaw's activities in promoting the Fabians' goals of advancing social democracy were highly distinctive. He effectively used calculated irritation as an attention-getting tactic; he relied on devices that he had formulated as a creative rhetorician, rather than on the academic principles that were second nature to most of his fellow Fabians; and he devised and championed the use of indirect means to "persuade the world to take our ideas into account in reforming itself."

Charles A. Carpenter is professor emeritus of English at Binghamton University.

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"An erudite and spirited work that will be of use not only to Shavians grappling with the Fabian side of this habitual iconoclast, but also to students of drama theory and theatre history, and to anyone interested in the period of evolving sociopolitical change at the turn of the twentieth century." English Literature in Transition

Whilst one might fear this study to be esoteric in content, it is surprisingly accessible in its clear yet challenging stylistic and formal critical approach. Carpenter deploys a wealth of sources and offers helpful contexts to Shaw's most infamous plays as well as his more obscure essays. This work is far more liberating in criticial terms than the self-styled 'Educate, Permeate, Irritate' slogan may suggest and highlights the importance of Fabian political context when consulting Shaw as artist, for it has infected his fiction and non-fiction. It is up to the reader,Carpenter suggests, to be wary of infection. After all, the revolution will not be televised. Irish Studies Review

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