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Pygmalion: A Romance in Five Acts (Penguin Classics)

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9780141439501: Pygmalion: A Romance in Five Acts (Penguin Classics)
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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

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Review:

By the Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature

"[Shaw] did his best in redressing the fateful unbalance between truth and reality, in lifting mankind to a higher rung of social maturity. He often pointed a scornful finger at human frailty, but his jests were never at the expense of humanity." --Thomas Mann

"Shaw will not allow complacency; he hates second-hand opinions; he attacks fashion; he continually challenges and unsettles, questioning and provoking us even when he is making us laugh. And he is still at it. No cliché or truism of contemporary life is safe from him." --Michael Holroyd

"In his works Shaw left us his mind. . . . Today we have no Shavian wizard to awaken us with clarity and paradox, and the loss to our national intelligence is immense." --The Sunday Times

"He was a Tolstoy with jokes, a modern Dr. Johnson, a universal genius who on his own modest reckoning put even Shakespeare in the shade." --The Independent

"His plays were superb exercises in high-level argument on every issue under the sun, from feminism and God, to war and eternity, but they were also hits--and still are." --The Daily Mail

From the Back Cover:

'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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