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Pygmalion (Dover Thrift Editions) Paperback – Unabridged, October 20, 1994

4.0 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

One of George Bernard Shaw's best-known plays, Pygmalion was a rousing success on the London and New York stages, an entertaining motion picture and a great hit with its musical version, My Fair Lady. An updated and considerably revised version of the ancient Greek legend of Pygmalion and Galatea, the 20th-century story pokes fun at the antiquated British class system.
In Shaw's clever adaptation, Professor Henry Higgins, a linguistic expert, takes on a bet that he can transform an awkward cockney flower seller into a refined young lady simply by polishing her manners and changing the way she speaks. In the process of convincing society that his creation is a mysterious royal figure, the Professor also falls in love with his elegant handiwork.
The irresistible theme of the emerging butterfly, together with Shaw's brilliant dialogue and splendid skills as a playwright, have made Pygmalion one of the most popular comedies in the English language. A staple of college drama courses, it is still widely performed.

About the Author

In the course of his long and prolific career, George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950) wrote 60 plays, in addition to music and literary criticism. An avid socialist, he regarded his writing as a vehicle for promoting his political and humanitarian views.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 11 and up
  • Grade Level: 6 and up
  • Series: Dover Thrift Editions
  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; FIRST EDITION edition (October 20, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486282228
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486282220
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.3 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,267 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
How can a reputable bookseller sell a version of a classic book that leaves out some of the scenes and leaves out or changes some of the dialogue--including some KEY passages? The irony, of course, is that Shaw's will stipulates that Pygmalion is NEVER to be published with any changes whatsoever--down to the least significant British punctuation conventions! Imagine my horror when, having successfully encouraged most of my 12th grade students to order their own copy of the book, we opened to the first lesson on Shaw's Introduction, and half of it was missing. The rest of the book isn't that bad, but the little changes shifted the tone and reminded me how much we take for granted the literature that's been handed down to us. At least the description of the book should be very clear that liberties have been taken.
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Format: Paperback
It is not very likely that George Bernard Shaw knew he was writing the play that would become one of the seminal romantic comedies of the 20th when he penned `Pygmalion'. The play is delightful, with borrowed elements from many genres. There is comedy and romance, above all, but there is also a very clear social critic -- and even a Marxist idea of class struggle. What only enhances the reading of this masterpiece.
Professor Henry Higgins is a linguistic expert who is much more interested in how people say the words rather than what they say. He ends up taking a bet that he is able to transform a simple cockney flower seller, Eliza, into a sophisticated and refined young lady, who would be able to fool the Queen herself. To succeed in such a move he claims he will change only the way she speaks.
To work on Eliza he puts her up in his house and starts polishing her speech. This is not an easy job, because what the girl speaks is not English, but a language she has developed herself. After some time, the Professor decides to introduce her to a group of friends, without mentioning her backgrounds. At first the meeting is blast. Although Eliza can use a fine language it is clear she has not backgrounds to develop and keep up a conversation. And her behavior ends up being the laughing stock. But one of the guests notices how beautiful the girl is. Higgins feels sort of jealous and this could lead their relationship to another level.
Shaw's prose is funny and touching at the same time. He uses devices, like everybody speaking at the same time, which only enhances the fun of the play and brings more truth to the action. His characters are lively and well developed. His social critic is evident.
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Format: Paperback
Shaw's PYGMALION. like Julius Caesar's Gaul, is divided into three parts.
1. A preface, which was written after the play was already a hit, but was meant by Shaw to be a part of the reader's experience, and is necessary to the understanding of Shaw's main theme.
2. A five act play, meant to be performed, and which is annotated in such a manner so as to facilitate deletion, on the stage, of portions only possible in a film version.
3. What Shaw refers to as a sequel, written in prose, and outlining Liza and Freddy's life after their marriage which takes place after the end of Act V.
In the preface, Shaw first emphasizes the importance of reading his prose sequel. He then devotes the bulk of the preface to a discussion of the difficulties of learning to speak English, because its written alphabet so inadequately reflects the sound of the spoken word. He makes it very clear that he believes that the English Alphabet should be replaced by a 42 letter phonetic alphabet. He states that, "The English have no respect for their language, and will not teach their children to speak it." He also states that Henry Higgins, the speech therapist, is at least partially modeled on Henry Sweet, a leading phonetician of the period.
The central portion of PYGMALION is the five act play to which most of us have been exposed in one form or another; The original play, the screen play with the altered "happy ending," or the musical version, "My Fair Lady." By now, I would guess that we all are very familiar with the plot in which Professor Henry Higgins teaches the uneducated flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, proper language and manners, and, for an evening, passes her off as royalty.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this because we had watched My Fair Lady and I wanted to see how different it was. The answer is "not very".

The songs of course, and many of the scenes they were in, were added, but the main dialog was straight from the original.

The biggest difference, and one that I assume most of the fans of the musical wouldn't like, is the "sequel" written by Shaw that describes the characters' lives after the end of the play. I know my wife will be disappointed if she ever reads it.

As for the edition: I noticed no problems with it and it's hard to argue with the price.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought a set for a high school humanities type class. My students enjoyed reading it aloud together. We paired it with the Leslie Howard version of the film. Some differences in the script. interestingly enough Bernard Shaw wrote the screenplay from his original play and the changes he incorporated into the film dialogue became the basis for the differences of the Lerner and Lowe musical "My Fair Lady" from the original script and storyline of the play from the early 1900's. This play was a contemporary story. The film advanced the contemporary setting to the time when the film was made (1936). The Warner Bros. film took the setting back to the original early 1900's and made it a period piece rather than a contemporary story. Have things really changed so much in the last 114 years?
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