Is Bernard Shaw Among The Prophets? -- By: Win Fred Chesney Rhoades
BSac 63:251 (July 1906) p. 528
Is Bernard Shaw Among The Prophets?
A few months ago one of the New York theaters announced the production of a play which was promptly heralded as being indecent. This happy advertisement of the play as indecent produced a great demand for tickets, and persons who were eager to witness the performance of “Mrs. Warren’s Profession “paid as high as thirty-five dollars for one seat in the orchestra. After a single performance, further acting of the play was prohibited by the police commissioners. The universal condemnation of the press, and the notoriety that must accompany official suppression of a play, had succeeded, however, in making the name of George Bernard Shaw known to a multitude of people who had never heard it before. During the last two or three years, allusions to Mr. Shaw, and caricatures of his interesting physiognomy, have been multiplying in the public prints; and now it is said that he has at last “arrived,” because his name is becoming known to the “general reader.” One of the New York journals spoke of the demand for Bernard Shaw’s books as the feature of the fall trade.
The latest writer of rapidly selling books is not always worthy of serious attention. But when a man sets up as a prophet and becomes a cult, when he is the possessor of remarkably abilities as a self-advertiser, and when he puts his philosophy into precisely that form of literature that will catch the ear of more of his fellow-men than almost any other form, those who are concerned about the welfare of society must ask who he is and what
BSac 63:251 (July 1906) p. 529
he is doing. But, alas, when you ask, “Who is Bernard Shaw, and what is he doing?” you find that he is a man of whom it is the fashion to speak very disrespectfully at the present time. He who sets up as a prophet is the target for general sneers and derision. A recent poet voices “a mental attitude of Bernard Pshaw” in some verses of which the following are samples:—
“I’m a Socialist, loving my brother
In quite an original way,
With my maxim, ‘Detest One Another’—
Tho, faith, I don’t mean what I say.
(It’s beastly to mean what you say.)
“For it’s fun to make bosh of the Gospel,
And it’s sport to make gospel of Bosh,
While divorcees hurrah
For the Sayings of Pshaw
And his sub-psychological Josh.”
A publication called the Theater speaks of Bernard Shaw as a man “seriously attempting, at times, to set the world afire merely to see it burn, and with the same idle purpose of the small boy who applies a match to the back stairs of a tenement-house ‘to see the en...
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