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Pygmalion : A Romance in Five Acts Paperback – March 29, 1988


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Product Details

  • Series: Shaw Library
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (March 29, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014045022X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140450224
  • Product Dimensions: 4.9 x 0.4 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,115,019 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) was one of the most prolific writers of the modern theater. He invented the modern comedy of ideas, expounding on social and political problems with a razor-sharp tongue. He won the 1925 Nobel Prize for literature.

Dan H. Laurence edited Shaw's Collected Letters, his Collected Plays with Their Prefaces, Shaw's Music, and (with Daniel Leary) The Complete Prefaces. He is series editor for the works of Shaw in Penguin.

Nicholas Grene is professor of English literature at Trinity College, Dublin. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sushil Markandeya on August 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Published as a play in 1916, 'Pygmalion' is one of Shah's play
not heavy on philosophy. I, personally feel that his plays heavy
on philosophy are his best - 'Man and Superman', 'St.
Joan', 'Androcles and the Lion' et al. Among his plays of 'not
heavy on philosophy' genre, I rate 'Pygmalion' as one of the
best. It is full of fun, gaiety, humor, Shavian wit and is a wee
bit didactic. As Shaw wrote in the preface of 'Man and
Superman', that all good, great writing should be didactic. So,
even in the mildly didactic 'Pygmalion', Shaw had more than one
axe to grind so to say.
The central theme of Pygmalion is the gift of speech in human
beings. Shaw has tried to depict as to how a person speaks
affects their own personality and the people around. As a
corollary to this theme, Shaw hoped to popularize the science of
phonetics. In the short preface of the play, Shaw also makes a
plea for enhancement of the English alphabet (with it's too few
vowels and few consonants) to make English reading pronunciation
rational. Both his wishes of popularizing phonetics and getting
the English alphabet enlarged remain unfulfilled even today,
perhaps a measure of how much ahead of the times he was or still
is!
The locale is London's Covent Garden vegetable market. The time
is late night. It is pouring heavily, everybody is seeking the
shelter of a church's portico. Among the shelter seekers is an
impoverished, bedraggled flower girl Liza with a terrible
cockney accent. Liza is trying to peddle her flowers to the
crowd of shelter seekers. A middle-aged gentleman, professor
Higgins is taking down her speech (in Bells Visible Speech) in
his notebook.
Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Marda S. on January 20, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Although I love Pygmalion, this is an ABRIDGED version. Many scenes are not included, particularly at the end of each act. If you want an unabridged version, I would suggest the Penguin Classics edition.
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Format: Paperback
This one-day read was amusing and clever. The witty banter and characterization of Eliza Doolittle the 'guttersnipe' and Henry Higgins the restless Phonetics teacher, sets the tone of the play, and the humour maintains itself. This was my introduction to the work of George Bernard Shaw, and on the back of this one I'm ready to dip right into another of his works. 'Pygmalion' is a quintessential 19th century text, as it deals with the sensibilities of the day, especially Victorian prudery. Henry Higgins has a bet with his friend Colonel Pickering, that he can pass this "squashed cabbage leaf" (Miss Doolittle) off as a duchess in 6 months. Decked out in finery and with her new, deliberate and well-mannered tongue, Eliza debuts at a London reception, rendering everyone awe-struck by her startling beauty and refinement. Higgins laps up the success of his protege, gloating and dismissing the possibility that it was Eliza's quick learning that made him win the bet. Higgin's godlike power over Eliza underlines book's sexist subtext. Eliza is abused and bullied by her professor, remaining the object of his ridicule, irrespective of her new-found station in life. The ending of this book surprised me, and Shaw interrupts the play format to conclude it in prose. I found 'Pygmalion' enjoyable, and would recommend it to those seeking insight into 19th century ways of thinking, or simply those seeking a hearty and amusing read. Note: this is the DEFINITIVE TEXT version of the play.
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