“Pygmalion” by George Bernard Shaw

pygmalion02pygmalion01The story of Pygmalion is probably better known to many of us from its adaptation into the musical My Fair Lady and the film of the same name. Professor of phonetics Henry Higgins makes a bet that he can train a Cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, to pass for a duchess at an ambassador’s garden party. He will do this by teaching her to assume a veneer of gentility, the most important element of which, he believes, is impeccable speech. The play is a sharp lampoon of the rigid British class system of the day and a commentary on women’s independence. Wikipedia notes that Shaw’s play is named after the Greek mythological character of Pygmalion, who fell in love with one of his sculptures, which then came to life.

We read this in 2015 and five people attended the meeting in July. Those present had enjoyed the play and talked a little about the political side of the play – the influence of accents and the morality of using superior wealth and power to change people’s lives. We thought the humour was great and some of us appreciated it being a short read – though some read it twice and even three times. Scores reflected our enjoyment, with votes ranging from 6 to 10 (!) and resulting in an average of 7.8 (based on a total of 7 readers).

A Footnote on Famous Phrases

George Bernard Shaw is well known for a well-turned choice of words and plenty of his quotations have survived him, eg here.

Many would fit right in to a modern self-improvement book or poster (and probably do):

Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.
Some are political:
A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.

And many are amusing:

I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.

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