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'Yes, you squashed cabbage leaf . . . you incarnate insult to the English language: I could pass you off as the Queen of Sheba'
Pygmalion both delighted and scandalized its first audiences in 1914. A brilliantly witty reworking of the classical tale of the sculptor who falls in love with his perfect female statue, it is also a barbed attack on the British class system and a statement of Shaw's feminist views. In Shaw's hands, the phoneticist Henry Higgins is the Pygmalion figure who believes he can transform Eliza Doolittle, a cockney flower girl, into a duchess at ease in polite society. The one thing he overlooks is that his 'creation' has a mind of her own.
With an Introduction by NICHOLAS GRENE
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
'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.'
Following this public boast, Professor Henry Higgins accepts a challenge to teach the flower-seller Eliza Doolittle to speak standard English and launch her into polite society. Through Higgins's triumphant transformation of Eliza into a 'lady', and Eliza's subsequent rebellion against Higgins's attitudes and assumptions, Shaw's provocative comedy explores questions of speech and class in England.
First performed in London in 1914, 'Pygmalion' quickly established itself among the classic English comedies. On this lively recording, which offers the complete text of the definitive script of 1I39, the play is performed by a distinguished cast led by Sir Michael Redgrave, Sir Michael Hordern, Lynn Redgave and Donald Pleasence.
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