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Bernard Shaw: The Ascent of the Superman Hardcover – March 27, 1996

4.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Social critic, major playwright, self-proclaimed genius, sexual adventurer, fanatical vegetarian, George Bernard Shaw was a kind of literary Superman in late Victorian England, a precursor of Pound and Eliot who helped blaze the trail for modernism. He was also a repressed homosexual. So argues Sally Peters, a lecturer at Wesleyan University, in this adventurous study of buried feminine and homoerotic themes in Shaw's life and work. Whether one agrees or disagrees with her thesis, Peters has produced a fascinating exploration of the man who lived life in pursuit of "the satisfaction of a passion in us of which we can give no rational account whatever."

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George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) was haunted by the idea that he was a reincarnation of William Shakespeare. According to Peters's startlingly incisive biographical study, full of fresh insights, Shaw saw himself as in many ways the idealized "superman" of his plays?the heroic artist as moral, powerful and courageous outsider. Yet Shaw, who hated hypocrisy, was, in Peters's estimate, an arch-hypocrite, touted as a feminist while he played women off each other in triangular relationships and used the threat of physical violence to assert control over his mistress, Irish widow Jane Patterson, whom he "pretended to throw out of (a) window" (in the words of Shaw's diary). Peters, a visiting lecturer at Wesleyan, says Shaw's unconsummated marriage to Charlotte Payne-Townshend was "a protective but sterile womb" and traces his misogyny to overidentification with his cold, selfish mother, who dumped Shaw's drunkard father. She illuminates the vegetarian, teetotaling playwright's obsessions, including his devotion to boxing and mountain climbing and his preference for unbleached, knitted wool clothing. Preaching eugenics, seeking spiritual salvation, Shaw projected his romanticized self-image onto the stage in telling parables for humanity. Photos.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 342 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; First Edition edition (March 27, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300060971
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300060973
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,721,960 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
"Androgyny is not trying to manage the relationship between opposites; it is simply flowing between them."-- June Singer (1919-2004), PhD - Carl Jung Scholar

While I have no desire to "Argue"(against) how others may value their experience with Dr. Peters' book... I can affirm you should "Read" the text, and judge her work for yourself! Rather than rely upon "blind" guides; who may simply be leading you to endorse their, own, worldview.

Cultural conditioning often blurs our awareness of the conflict between `Reason & `Imagination. Social archetypes hidden from "View" by our expectations of "Tradition", and by which norms are handed-down to define the boundary of the "Soul". If that is, indeed, true... why should it come as any surprise, the human body (itself) should be a scene of constant struggle? A state-of-conflict, vis-à-vis, Society and the Individual.

I believe this is the lesson Dr. Peters' is striving to illustrate in Shaw's writing. A life which sought to awaken his audience to the understanding: `Politics will, almost, always manifest itself... Whenever "Voices of dissent", in the individual seek "Acceptance" for their self-expression; from broader communal associations.
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Format: Paperback
As an actor and acting teacher, this book was a must read and delivered more than I could have hoped for in my work interests and remains a go to source for personal inspiration. Sally Peters brings the man, the writer, the artist to life in such depth and through it all I feel Peters' joy in sharing Shaw's joyful journey through life. I revel in the respect given a true icon, yet with that same respect, I can connect to the human being of Shaw. So I go to this book to remind myself that even one of the greatest, and each and every one of us human beings, have our particular "ways" and to have the courage to live out loud with who we are, and persevere, persevere!
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Format: Paperback
Peters, Sally. Bernard Shaw: The Accent of the Superman. New Haven: Yale University Press.
If Bernard Shaw were not the second greatest playwright in the English language, this biography would not have such significance; and were it not for Shaw's multidimensional personality, this book would not possess so many fascinating dimensions. Sally Peters acknowledges her debt, and gives us a work without self-conscious authorship. It is a book that invites reading and rereading. Much has been made of Shaw's homosexuality; but Dr. Peters' focus is broader and deeper than that. A story, which often reads like the most engrossing fiction, Bernard Shaw: The Accent of the Superman, is a rewarding resource for any serious student of modern drama.
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