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Major Barbara (Paperback - 2022)

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About the Book

Major Barbara, a social satire in three acts, written in 1905 and published in 1907, is the most controversial of Shaw’s works which mocks religious hypocrisy and the complicity of society in its own ills. When the play was first produced at the Royal Court Theatre in London in 1905, the early reviews were mixed. Shaw’s vehement criticism of Christianity triggered some critics to accuse him of blasphemy. However, there were some critics who defended stating that he has made a realistic presentation of the religion. The play is popular among the people ever since it was first staged, and an adaptation was done to film in 1941. Today this play is taken as a very important work, not only among Shaw’s plays, but also in the history of modern drama.

The play deals with the validity of religious and charitable organizations like Salvation Army. It ridicules the superficial family ties of the rich where nothing is sacred except money. It has also a socialist learning, as it questions capitalism, especially the exploitation of the workers by large industrialists. It owes its origins to Shaw’s personal experiences, as he often observed the girls of the Salvation Army conducting meetings and judged them to be hypocritical.

In this play, Shaw expresses his view on poverty, ethics, and politics through Undershaft who ridicules the intellectuals and moralists who consider poverty as a virtue. Since the play is a discussion play, Barbara and Andrew discuss on the issue of idealism represented by Barbara and realism represented by Andrew. Directly or indirectly, Shaw has raised many critical issues in the play. Almost all these issues bear social and political significance. Thematically, the play is transparent because the action of the play is a long philosophical discussion.

About the Author

George Bernard Shaw, (26th July, 1856, Dublin, Ireland—2nd November, 1950, Hertfordshire, England), was an Irish playwright, author, literary critic, political activist, socialist propagandist, and the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925. He was the third and youngest child (and only son) of George Carr Shaw and Lucinda Elizabeth Gurly Shaw. Technically, he belonged to the Protestant ascendancy, the landed Irish gentry, but his impractical father was first a sinecure civil servant and then an unsuccessful grain merchant. Therefore, he grew up in an atmosphere of genteel poverty, which to him was more humiliating than being merely poor. At first, he was tutored by his clerical uncle, then he was sent to various schools in Dublin but developed a great dislike for the formalized education systems.

Shaw developed a wide knowledge of music, art, and literature as a result of his mother’s influence and his visits to the National Gallery of Ireland. After working in an estate agent’s office for a while, in 1876, he left for London to join his mother. In London, 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. With fellow Fabians such as Sidney and Beatrice Webb, he played an important role in the foundation of the London School of Economics (LSE) after receiving private bequests.

Shaw began his literary career as a novelist and 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. By the 1890s, his plays were being performed in London and the income from his plays enabled him to devote his life to writing. Like his contemporary, Oscar Wilde, his plays were popular for their biting wit and humour. His plays were in contrast to many Victorian plays which tended to be sentimental, escapist, and lacking in satire. 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. His radical rationalism, his utter disregard of conventions, his keen dialectic interest and verbal wit often turn the stage into a forum of ideas.

More Information
Product NameMajor Barbara (Paperback - 2022)
Original PriceINR 125.00
AuthorGeorge Bernard Shaw
PublisherPeacock Books
Publication Year2022
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