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I. Read the text and do the assignments following it.
When a great writer dies high in honour and in fame, criticism is for a while at a loss; as the applause dies down, praise sounds unnaturally loud. So it had to be with Bernard Shaw. Even now he begins to assume a position in English drama second only to Shakespeare. He built up his own new drama: true, Shaw followed the inspiration of Ibsen, but he would seem to have been himself ready to be the English Ibsen.
He turned to the drama as his medium of expression. That Shaw chose the drama as the means to criticize and educate society was due to a most happy combination of experience, coincidence and chance. His own experience had taught him that he had no promising future in the novel.
In his long period of dramatic writing, more than twice the length of Shakespeare's, Shaw displayed the many-sidedness of his genius in a great variety of plays. It is hard, however, to discern any clear periods or trends in his development. There is on the whole a change of theme from the particular to the general, from the contemporary scene to the future, and of attitude from the satiric and destructive to the philosophic and constructive, from the materialistic to the mystic.
Shaw's drama gave a powerful impulse to developing of the English theatre.
The first period of Shaw's creative work consists of three cycles: "Unpleasant Plays" ("Widower's Houses”1, 1892; "The Eater of Hearts,"2 1893; "Mrs. Warren's Profession,"3 1894); "Pleasant Plays" ("Arms and the Man,"4 1894; "Candida,"5 1894; "The Man of Destiny,"61895); "Three Plays for Puritans" ("The Devil's Pupil,"7 1896-1897; "Caesar and Cleopatra,"8 1898; "Captain Brassbaund's Address,"9 1899).
The high spirits which characterized his plays before 1914, often bringing into his comedy a lively element of farce, did not appear so much afterwards. Instead something of grandeur and poetry found expression in famous passages of "Saint Joan"10 and "Back to Methuselah."11 Before "Heartbreak House, "12which was finished during the war, he had certainly never written a play with such deep underlying seriousness. He called it "a fantasia on English themes in the Russian manner," by which he alluded to his being inspired by Chekhov.
Bernard Shaw's publicist attitude towards the drama demanded an effective language. His ideas are expressed in short wise, witty sayings, aphorisms, as they are called. When writing on the social contradictions of the 20th century, he often uses striking paradoxes, which bring out his attitude to England's 19th century conventions. B. Shaw has introduced a new form of drama, the publicistic drama. His plays are suited for reading as much as for acting. He expresses his ideas not only through the individual characters but through the settings of the plays as well. Each play has a preface in which portraits of the persons in the play are drawn, and the setting described.
1. "Widower's Houses" – пьеса «Дома вдовца»
2. "The Eater of Hearts" – «Сердцеед»
3. "Mrs. Warren's Profession" – «Профессия миссис Уоррен»
4. "Arms and the Man" – «Оружие и человек»
5. "Candida" – «Кандида»
6. "The Man of Destiny" – «Избранник судьбы»
7. "The Devil's Pupil" – «Ученик дьявола»
8. "Caesar and Cleopatra" – «Цезарь и Клеопатра»
9. "Captain Brassbaund's Address" – «Обращение капитана Брасбаунда»
10. "Saint Joan" – пьеса «Святая Иоанна»
11. "Back to Methuselah" – «Назад к Мафусаилу»
12. "Heartbreak House" – «Дом, где разбиваются сердца»
II. Give Russian equivalents to the following English words and word combinations. Use them in the sentences of your own:
to assume a position, inspiration, to display the many-sidedness of one's genius, a variety of plays, to find expression in, to allude to, social contradictions, to introduce a new form of drama, to be suited for, a setting.
III. Translate Shaw's aphorisms into Russian. Discuss the problems raised in them.
... the love of money is the root of all evil.
...When people are very poor, you cannot help them, no matter how much you may sympathize with them. It does them more harm than good in the long run.
... the dirtier a place is the more rent you get...
I'll have to learn to speak middle-class language from you, instead of speaking proper English.
The great secret ... is not having bad manners or good manners or any other particular sort of manners, but having the same manner for all human souls...
Time enough to think of the future when you haven't any future to think of.
Independence? That's middle-class blasphemy. We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth.
IV. Give a literary translation of the following extracts. Speak on Shaw's style.
1. Shaw's plays, as a whole, give the impression of his creative powers in a spontaneous unity. We can well believe that, when he told Ellen Terry that "Candida" came easily enough, he was expressing a general truth about his work. The component of plot, stagecraft, characterization and dialogue grew into one natural unforced creation. Shaw himself, in the Postscript to "Back to Methuselah," declared: "When I am writing a play I never invent a plot: I let the play write itself and shape itself, which it always does even when up to the last moment I do not foresee the way out. Sometimes I do not see what the play was driving at until quite a long time after I have finished it." Certainly his method of developing a play often involves a turn which takes the audience half by surprise, as it may have taken the dramatist himself. Thus his success lies partly in the command of stagecraft which instinctively knows how to turn stage situation to profit.
2. As for Shaw's style, it never failed from the earliest plays to the last, or in his pamphlets, prefaces or letters. Shaw himself refused to admit the existence of style apart from the matter. Style arose, he held, "from the having something to say. Effectiveness of assertion is the Alpha and Omega of style. He who has nothing to assert has no style and can have none; he who has something to assert will go as far in power of style as its momentousness and his conviction after it is made, yet his style remains."
With the union of assertion and provocation his style is never dull.
In the plays it rarely has a chance to be dull, for there is the further animation given by the dramatic clash of dialogue.
(From "English Literature of the 20th Century" by A.S. Collins)
V. Speak about B.Shaw's best comedy using the additional text.
"Pygmalion" is one of Shaw's best comedies. The title of the play comes from a Greek myth. Pygmalion, a sculptor, was said to have carved a statue out of ivory. It was the statue of a beautiful young girl whom he called Galatea. He fell in love with his own handiwork, so the goddess Aphrodite breathed life into the statue and transformed it into a woman.
The principal characters of the play are Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins. Eliza, a girl of eighteen, comes from the lowest social level and speaks with a strong Cockney accent, which is considered to be the most illiterate English.
Eliza's father is a dustman. Eliza will not stay with her father and her stepmother, she makes her own living by selling flowers in the streets of London.
The play shows how Eliza struggles to rise to a higher cultural level. Bernard Shaw knew the common fate of those who were born in poverty. There was no rising from it to another standing without outward culture. The Cockney English spoken in the East End of London was like a stamp on a person's reputation.
Henry Higgins is a professor of phonetics. He studies the physiological aspects of a person's speech, that is the sounds of the language. When in the street one day, he points out the flowergirl, Eliza, to his friend Colonel Pickering, a phonetician studying Indian dialects.
"You see this creature with her kerbstone English: the English that will keep her in the gutter to the end of her days. Well, sir, in three months I could pass that girl off as a duchess at an ambassador's garden party. I could even get her a place as lady's maid or shop assistant, which requires better English. That's the sort of thing I do for commercial millionaires. And on the profits of it I do genuine scientific work in phonetics."
Eliza hears this conversation and is impressed. She sees a chance of being pulled out of the gutter. The next day she goes to the professor's house and insists on being taught. Higgins makes an agreement with Picketing and bets him that he will pass her off as a duchess in six months.
VI. Render the text in English using the following key words and word combinations:
reformer, represent, symposium, clash, to be highly appreciated, to mark the 75th anniversary, innumerous striking blows, narrow-mindedness, banality, to ridicule, valuable, an autobiographical novel.
Б. Шоу называли реформатором английского театра. Сцену Шоу представлял как место дискуссии, как площадку для столкновения идей, постановки проблем. Он создает новую структуру драмы– проблемную пьесу-симпозиум. Шоу пользуется особым способом изложения проблем – парадоксом.
Шоу высоко ценили лучшие и крупнейшие представители литературы его времени. Среди них были Горький и O'Кейси.
В 1931 году Горький писал Шоу, приехавшему в Москву на празднование своего 75-летия: «Три четверти столетия прожили Вы, и неисчислимы сокрушительные удары, нанесенные Вашим острым умом консерватизму и пошлости людей».
Высказав ряд ценных наблюдений о творчестве Шоу в своих литературно-критических статьях, Шон O'Кейси посвятил драматургу целую главу – «Уголок Шоу» – в автобиографическом романе «Заход солнца и вечерняя звезда».
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