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George Bernard Shaw

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  122 ratings  ·  16 reviews
The book traces in some detail Shaw’s work as a critic (puritanical opposition to Shakespeare) and as a dramatist. G K Chesterton was ideally placed to write this critical biography of the literary works and political views of George Bernard Shaw. He was a personal friend and yet an ardent opponent of Shaw’s progressive socialism. The lightness of tone and the humour of hi ...more
Published February 12th 2001 by House of Stratus (first published 1935)
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3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  122 ratings  ·  16 reviews

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Manuel Alfonseca
Aug 06, 2018 rated it liked it
ENGLISH: A typical biography by Chesterton (which means an atypical biography) about his personal friend and philosophical opponent Georges Bernard Shaw, whom he studies as a critic and a dramatist. Unfortunately this book was written in 1909, when Shaw still had not written two of his most important plays: Pygmalion and The Apple Cart.

ESPAÑOL: Una biografía típica de Chesterton (es decir, una biografía atípica) sobre Georges Bernard Shaw, su amigo personal y oponente filosófico, cuya obra críti
Jan 27, 2017 rated it liked it
I think that it is very likely that Chesterton has captured George Bernard Shaw in this biography. I think Chesterton makes a ton of excellent points. It's just that so many of his references are so specific to their particular time, that it is hard for the modern reader to understand or really appreciate the argument being made.
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Chesterton on Shaw. Chesterton understood Shaw as a sort of secular Puritan. Of course, Chesterton’s off-track view of Puritanism and Calvinism shine through! But Shaw does fit Chesterton’s parody!

Mutually respectful and antithetical, the humour could be brutal:-

Chesterton: “I see there has been a famine in the land. “Shaw: “And I see the cause of it.”

Shaw: “If I were as fat as you, I would hang myself. “Chesterton: “If I were to hang myself, I would use you for the rope.”
You'd be hard pressed to find another biography that contains so little biographical information--yet that doesn't prevent this book from being a work of genius. Chesterton has an unusual way of avoiding the facts of a person's life in favor of examining the pure essence of it. After reading this book, I couldn't tell you whether or not Bernard Shaw had any siblings, but I could confidently explain what it would be like having him as a dinner guest.
Chesterton makes an interesting biographer for
Lawrence Leporte
Apr 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Biographical detail and literary criticism are relevant to Chesterton only insofar as they support his views as to how George Bernard Shaw fits into the world (the world, that is, as Chesterton sees and interprets it). And this, of course, is what makes the book such a pleasure. It's Chesterton holding forth on a variety of topics, and occasionally bringing Shaw into the conversation because that's who he's supposed to be writing about.

If you want factual detail about Shaw and his plays there ar
Nov 13, 2015 rated it really liked it

This, like all of GK Chesterton's body of work, is a study of ideas. And I think it is important to know that, especially going into any of his biographies. It explains why some are disappointed at his seeming lack of focus on the study of the dates, events and circumstances of the subject of his biography. But if you look a little closer, you begin to see that GKC is painting a larger picture. A picture not only of the man, but of what intellectual ground the man grew up out of. A picture not o
Oct 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Chesterton admits that he is not a faithful biographer, but this is definitely not your typical biography. There is scarcely a single biographical fact in the entire book about George Bernard Shaw. Chesterton excuses this with the remark that his life is so humdrum, while his books and plays are so exciting. Even when writing about Shaw's literature, he doesn't state the facts, because he is too concerned with what Shaw is trying to say rather than the whatever he exactly said!

But that's what I
Thom Swennes
Sep 04, 2013 rated it liked it
This narrative begins with establishing the perimeters and laying down a few rules and possible expectations. If the reader is looking for or expecting a biographical work outlining the life of a distinguished playwright, don’t come anywhere near this book. The fact that Shaw was Irish is swept away as immaterial. That the writer was a protestant or a social refugee is only of interest as it influenced his work. C.K. Chesterton tries to give the reader a glimpse of the world through the eyes of ...more
Matthew Dambro
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
They were friends who vehemently disagreed publicly and in private. But this small volume is in many ways a tribute to GBS that his followers could not improve upon. It would be difficult to imagine two more different souls with philosophies and theologies heartfelt and antagonistic, but somehow they saw through the differences and recognized the common humanity. It is a brilliant piece of work.
Todd Stockslager
Oct 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Review title: Shaw by Chesterton

I recently ordered some classic public domain works by Chesterton and others in print-on-demand format online and discovered some flaws in the format. Here, the pagination and page breaks are sometimes missing or random. There are no paragraph separators at all the whole way through; I am only able to judge when a new paragraph begins by either the obvious start of a new idea, or by the line above falling obviously short of the right margin--but the margin is not
Dec 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
GK Chesterton was known as an expert on British literature of the 19th and early 20th Century. Earlier he wrote a book about the works of Charles Dickens, but in this volume Chesterton tackles a far more personal topic. Chesterton and Shaw were close personal friends, but also diametrically opposed in their worldview. Whereas Chesterton was a devout Catholic, Shaw was an atheist. Whereas Chesterton was a Distributionist, Shaw was a socialist. And whereas Chesterton was an enthusiast of classical ...more
Aug 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
What an intelligent way to chronicle the life of George Bernard Shaw by a master of paradoxes, G K Chesterton! With the arduousness of an investigative journalist, he thoroughly scrutinizes the development of GBS, going through four cardinal stages: puritan, progressive, dramatist and philosopher. All of this with uncommon wits and reasonable and well meaning conjecture.

Both of them are masters and Chesterton quite beautifully acknowledges the masterful prowess of GBS as a playwright, commentat
Angelino Desmet
Jul 12, 2017 rated it did not like it
G.K. Chesterton, a master of circumlocution and verbosity. Either his pretentiousness causes esoteric writing, or his esoteric writing makes him seem pretentious. Whatever the came first, he's got his head up his ass. This is without a doubt the worst book I've ever read.
Phil Chapman
Aug 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Really enjoyed this book. Made me want to read GBS.
Douglas Wilson
May 31, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, history
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Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) was born in London, educated at St. Paul’s, and went to art school at University College London. In 1900, he was asked to contribute a few magazine articles on art criticism, and went on to become one of the most prolific writers of all time. He wrote a hundred books, contributions to 200 more, hundreds of poems, including the epic Ballad of the White Horse, fi ...more
“Think of all those ages through which men have had the courage to die, and then remember that we have actually fallen to talking about having the courage to live.” 33 likes
“If a man called Christmas Day a mere hypocritical excuse for drunkeness and gluttony, that would be false, but it would have a fact hidden in it somewhere. But when Bernard Shaw says that Christmas Day is only a conspiracy kept up by Poulterers and wine merchants from strictly business motives, then he says something which is not so much false as startling and arrestingly foolish. He might as well say that the two sexes were invented by jewellers who wanted to sell wedding rings.” 6 likes
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