What Shaw Really Wrote about the War

Bernard Shaw, edited by J. L. Wisenthal and Daniel O'Leary

Foreword by R. F. Dietrich, Series Editor
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"Shaw observes war with the same combination of compassion and practical objectivity that make his plays vivid and relevant human documents still. The editors have done an excellent job of annotating and presenting the material--some of it newly published--while highlighting what Shaw’s attitude toward war and patriotism truly was (hint: it’s not as simple as people have thought)."--John A. Bertolini, Middlebury College

"The Great War provoked some of Shaw’s most impressive and trenchant polemical writing."--Ronald Bryden, University of Toronto

In Wisenthal and O'Leary's What Shaw Really Wrote About the War, Bernard Shaw speaks for himself--revealing his passionate views of World War I as neither unpatriotic nor pacifist. Aiming to correct misconceptions and explore the complexity of Shaw's wartime journalism, the editors have assembled the first annotated collection of his writings about the war, including What I Wrote About the War (1914), the previously unpublished More Common Sense About the War (1915), and What I Said in the Great War (1918). This landmark volume also includes an important piece called Peace Conference Hints, Shaw's unsolicited advice to the Allies at the end of the war. In addition, the authors draw parallels to Shaw's "theatre of war," noting how his attitudes about war infused his plays, including Heartbreak House and the Back to Methusaleh cycle he began to write during this period.

"Shaw seems to be one of the belligerents in the War himself," the editors argue, "enjoying the use of his verbal firepower in his pugnacious campaign against politicians' ineptitude and his audience's fatal misunderstandings of what is going on." Essential reading for Shaw scholars and still relevant today, his work speaks to anyone who exercises the right to ask questions and voice objections in times of war.

Contents include: Shaw’s Theatre of War; Common Sense About the War (1914); More Common Sense About the War (1915); The Case of Rutland Boughton (1916); On British Squealing, and the Situation After the War (1917); What I Said in the Great War (1918); Preface for French edition of Peace Conference Hints (1919); Peace Conference Hints (1919); Index

Jonathan Wisenthal is professor of English at the University of British Columbia. Daniel O'Leary is assistant professor of Canadian Studies in the Department of English at Concordia University in Montreal.

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