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Saint Joan: A Chronicle Play in Six Scenes and an Epilogue (Shaw Library) Paperback – January 1, 1989


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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Shaw Library
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (January 1, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140450238
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140450231
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,415,175 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Joan of Arc, born in 1412, was burned at the stake in 1431, canonized by the Catholic Church in 1920, and, like most saints, whitewashed by history. Canonization tends to strip a saint of supposedly un-Christian attributes such as rebelliousness, pride, and intolerance. And Joan, despite having been a stubborn, haughty, naive, even foolish girl, has for much of history been remembered only as a pious martyr. However, George Bernard Shaw's play, Saint Joan, completed in 1925, began the modern rehabilitation of the icon as a fully human, fallible character--not to mention a poster girl for teenage rebellion and feminism. Shaw's Joan, like the real Maid of Orleans, leads the fight to drive the English out of her native France, insists on direct communication with her God instead of submitting to the mediation of Catholic priests, and refuses to dress, speak, or act according to traditional notions of how women were expected to behave. Until the closing scene of Shaw's play, however, neither Joan nor her foes are cast in neatly heroic terms. Both are earnestly pursuing their partial visions of the truth. In the play's famous epilogue, Shaw suggests that even 400 years later, most of us are so limited by our own perspectives that we are unable to tell the difference between a saint and a heretic. "O God that madest this beautiful earth, when will it be ready to receive Thy saints?" Joan asks, preparing for her death. "How long, O Lord, how long?" --Michael Joseph Gross --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From School Library Journal

Grade 8 Up-By George Bernard Shaw. Narrated by Flo Gibson.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

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Customer Reviews

The play itself is typical Shaw - bright, smart, very worthwhile.
anonymous
The characters in this tale are amazingly well conceived, the premise is most intriguing, and the dialogue is very witty.
Marie Martin
He was a very humble and conscientious man, a political activist and a vegetarian.
Peter John Pols

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Jeanette Romee on December 10, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is George Bernard Shaw's most important work. A successful drama that has enjoyed continuous popularity for nearly eighty years is worth a read. Most audiences find it very satisfying. Shaw has a gift for lucid dialogue that brings a centuries old story to life. This is one of the most approachable of the great English language plays.

Why then does "Saint Joan" fall short of five stars?

Fictional accounts of Joan of Arc's life are numerous and seldom accurate. Shakespeare makes her a witch. Voltaire makes her an idiot. Schiller makes her admirable - and gives her a magical helmet that protects her from harm until she falls in love.

In a rare exception to his usual satirical style, Mark Twain spent months in France researching her life and published a fictional biography. Readers who enjoy accurate historical fiction would do well with Twain's "Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc." Twain considered this - not "Huckleberry Finn" - to be his finest work.

Shaw pays far more attention to accuracy than most fictionalizations. Several lines in the play are Shaw's own translations from her trial transcript. Shaw's long introductory essay aspires to be history as well as drama. Most scholars agree with his assessment of Joan of Arc's socioeconomic background. Shaw acknowledges a few dramatic economies: he combines the historical Jean d'Orleans and Duke Jean d'Alencon into a single character. What causes problems are Shaw's unacknowledged deviations from the factual record.

Shaw argues that Joan of Arc was a forerunner of Protestantism who got a fair trial. Among serious scholars this argument gains no credibility.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
THE DOCTOR'S DILEMMA is one of Shaw's most biting critical commentaries...this time on doctors. Shaw hated doctors, as a result of a botched operation on his foot, so here he portrays them as a group of ignorant, bull-headed windbags. All, that is, except for one doctor, who has actually found a cure for tuberculosis. The "dilemma" in the title is whether to use the cure on a talented young painter who is a moral and ethical sleazebag, or on an upstanding middle-aged physician who is a good soul, albeit a boring and relatively mundane one. All this is complicated by the fact that the doctor is in love with the painter's wife! The biggest problem with the play is that it has lost some of its impetus in the last century. Antibiotics can now cure tuberculosis, and the medical profession is far more restricted in its use of "experimental" treatments than it was then. However, Shaw's wit and invective is still poignant even at the end of the twentieth century. A must-read for Bernard Shaw enthusiasts....
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By MarianaP on December 7, 2003
Format: School & Library Binding
What has most stuck in my mind, many years after having read Shaw's book, is the fact that it's more logical to think of Joan as a protestant saint, instead of Catholic, when one considers how she rejected the Catholic Church's authority and was, naturally, rejected in turn.
He makes a very good point when he says that, right as that Church was to ban her on those grounds, nothing could give it the moral right (or any other right, for that matter) to condemn a woman who disagreed with it on matters of faith. In all fairness, they should have simply excommunicated her and said: "If you think you have a better idea, then you go ahead and create your own Church".
It may be a thoroughly idealistic point of view of course, too democratic for that age (perhaps any age), but nonetheless it strikes me as completely fair.
If you like a club but object to some of its rules, and that club isn't willing to change for your sake, they may have the right to throw you out, just as you may have the right to start a new one on your own - but they shouldn't be given the right to take away your life for having dared to challenge their concepts.
This lesson has stayed with me and I recommend this book for the wisdom it contains.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
Shaw was a close friend of a Benedictine Abbess, Dame Laurentia, who "vetted" his plays for fairness to the faith. This play is fun, takes lots of bites out of politicians and clergy, and says something beautiful about the imagination. This Joan is no dolt and had to be burnt at the stake. That is a complement to her faith.
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20 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
While Shaw may have been a gifted playwright, his "Saint Joan" did an enormous disservice to the subject: the view it presents of Joan of Arc conflicts with the historical evidence on nearly every point, echoing instead the propaganda of her enemies. In truth, her trial was orchestrated by the English and their clerical allies (and even Shaw admits that the Inquisition overturned the verdict in 1456, shortly after the English were finally driven out of Rouen); nor was Joan a "rebel" except in the minds of her political opponents. By dredging up this fraudulent view of La Pucelle, Shaw's play was among the first popular works to undermine the efforts of countless scholars whose research had brought a more truthful view of the issue to light. For an historically accurate version, I would recommend any book by Regine Pernoud, many of which are offered here at Amazon.
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