George Bernard Shaw: A Critical Study of His Ideas and Ideology by Dr. Samiran Kumar Paul
Reader; P. G. Department of English R.D.S. College (B. R. A. Bihar University)Muzaffarpur is a priceless work on GBS.Published by Kala-Prakashan, Varanasi in India.
George Bernard Shaw was a member of the FABIAN SOCIETY . After his arrival in London in 1876 he became an active Socialist and a brilliant platform speaker. He wrote on many social aspects of the day: on Commonsense about the War (1914), How to Settle the Irish Question (1917), and The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism (1928). He undertook his own education at the British Museum and consequently became keenly interested in cultural subjects. Thus his prolific output included music, art and theatre reviews which were collected into several volumes: Music In London 1890-1894 (3 vols. 1931); Pen Portraits and Reviews (1931); and Our Theatres in the Nineties (3 vols., 1931). He wrote five novels and some shorter fiction including The Black Girl in Search of God and some Lesser Tales and Cashel Byron's Profession.
He conducted a strong attack on the London theatre and was closely associated with the intellectual revival of British theatre. His many plays fall into several categories: 'Plays Pleasant'; 'Plays Unpleasant'; comedies, chronicle-plays, 'metabiological Pentateuch' (Back to Methuselah, a series of plays) and 'political extravaganzas'. G.B.S. died in 1950.
This is imperative on my part to discuss about different socialistic movements that shape the destiny of Shaw’s Pleasant and Unpleasant Plays. Fabian Society was a Socialist society founded in 1883-84 in London, having as its goal the establishment of a democratic socialist state in Great Britain. The Fabians put their faith in evolutionary socialism rather than in revolution.
The name of the society is derived from the Roman general Fabius Cunctator, whose patient and elusive tactics in avoiding pitched battles secured his ultimate victory over stronger forces. Its founding is attributed to Thomas Davidson, a Scottish philosopher, and its early members included George Bernard Shaw
, Sidney Webb, Annie Besant, Edward Pease, and Graham Wallas. Shaw
and Webb, later joined by Webb's wife, Beatrice, were the outstanding leaders of the society for many years. In 1889 the society published its best-known tract, Fabian Essays in Socialism
, edited by Shaw. It was followed in 1952 by New Fabian Essays
, edited by Richard H.S. Crossman.
The Fabians at first attempted to permeate the Liberal and Conservative parties with socialist ideas, but later they helped to organize the separate Labour Representation Committee, which became the Labour Party in 1906.
The Fabian Society has since been affiliated with the Labour Party.
The national membership of the Fabian Society has never been very great (at its peak in 1946 it had only about 8,400 members), but the importance of the society has always been much greater than its size might suggest. Generally, a large number of Labour members of Parliament in the House of Commons, as well as many of the party leaders, are Fabians; and in addition to the national society, there are scores of local Fabian societies.
The principal activities of the society consist in the furtherance of its goal of socialism through the education of the public along socialist lines by means of meetings, lectures, discussion groups, conferences, and summer schools; carrying out research into political, economic, and social problems; and publishing books, pamphlets, and periodicals. In 1931 the New Fabian Research Bureau was established as an independent body. The bureau and the society amalgamated in 1938 to form a new and revitalized Fabian Society. In 1940 the Colonial Bureau of the Fabian Society was established, and it produced a continuous stcussion and writing on colonial questions. The Fabian International Bureau was started in 1941 to cater to the growing concern of Fabians with foreign policy and the great issues of war and peace.
In Man and Superman
(performed 1905) Shaw expounded his philosophy that humanity is the latest stage in a purposeful and eternal evolutionary movement of the "life force" toward ever-higher life forms. The play's hero, Jack Tanner, is bent on pursuing his own spiritual development in accordance with this philosophy as he flees the determined marital pursuit of the heroine, Ann Whitefield. In the end Jack ruefully allows himself to be captured in marriage by Ann upon recognizing that she herself is a powerful instrument of the "life force," since the continuation and thus the destiny of the human race lies ultimately in her and other women's reproductive capacity. The play's nonrealistic third act, the "Don Juan in Hell" dream scene, is spoken theatre at its most operatic and is often performed independently as a separate piece.