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Pygmalion Kindle Edition
|Length: 146 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Top Customer Reviews
George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright who wrote “Pygmalion” in 1912. He would win the Nobel Prize in 1925. He was a polemist and a gadfly, challenging much conventional thought. He opposed both organized religion and vaccinations. More people are familiar with this play thanks to the musical My Fair Lady which is largely based upon its central themes, though “the rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain” is never in the original work.
Pygmalion is the first name of Professor Higgins, an insufferable, arrogant academic prig. He has developed quite a skill, which he demonstrates throughout the play: identifying someone’s place of origin by their accent. He claimed to be able to spot someone’s birthplace within London to within two miles. As for reforming the English language… and many others would no doubt agree, particularly those who have learned it as a second language: he advocated the use of phonetics.
The good professor decides to conduct an “experiment.” During a rainstorm, he meets a Cockney flower girl on the streets. He is so proud of his skills, that he is confident that he can teach her “proper” English (as well as manners) so that in six months, she can pass herself off as a “lady.” Lisa Doolittle is the flower girl, and she does want proper diction lessons in order to better herself. But she does have a mind of her own, and shows it, objecting to the callus way that she is treated, as merely a pawn in Professor Higgin’s experiment. There are several supporting characters, such as Professor Higgin’s mother who largely supports Ms. Doolittle in the conflicts. Meanwhile, her dad, a dustman, sees direct monetary gain in this experiment, not in improving his daughter’s social status, but in hitting the Professor up for a “fiver.”
The play is left open-ended. In fact, Shaw devotes the last 10% of the work to speculating on the best possible outcomes after the experiment is concluded, including if it would be best for Ms. Doolittle to marry the Professor, purportedly a confirmed bachelor. Shaw notes: “’When you go to women,’ says Nietzsche, ‘take your whip with you.’ Sensible despots have never confined that precaution to women: they have taken their whips with them when they have dealt with men, and been slavishly idealized by the men over whom they have flourished the whip much more than by women. No doubt there are slavish women as well as slavish men; and women, like men, admire those that are stronger than themselves. But to admire a strong person and to live under that strong person’s thumb are two different things.”
Sensible sentiments even, that resonate more than a century later. And I must consider the difficulties of enunciation in another language, and trust I would be able to find a better teacher that the “good” Professor. 5-stars, for Shaw’s work.
Bernard Shaw is not just a talented writer. He is a philosopher. And the book is far from preachy, it is utterly fun.
After reading the book, I was anxious to go back and see the film once again. The film holds amazingly true to the book. And of course Audrey Hepburn is excelllent. BUT - Julie Andrews played the part on Broadway, and I can't help but imagine what the film might have been with Julie Andrews - who really does sing. The exquisite Audrey Hepburn actually sings in the film, but much of her singing is dubbed for her.
All of that aside - the book is a GEM - and further more It is FREE on kindle !
So what are you waiting for ? Download now and experience the splendor of thought mixed with entertainment from the written word.
The story of Eliza and Higgins is not one of love, except the kind of love one feels for their fellows. They are not meant to end up together as Shaw states in the closing essay included in the book. This serves to further show the distinction between the classes and the camaraderie of Higgins and Eliza.