George Bernard Shaw - Separating Fact from Fiction

I had mentioned previously that my subject for my Humanities Capstone class final project was George Bernard Shaw. The title of my paper was George Bernard Shaw – separating Fact from Fiction. There were so many directions I could have gone because he was just such a prolific writer and speaker.  Plus with his involvement in the Fabian Society, with Stalin and supporting Hitler, his socialist beliefs, ideas about Eugenics, his belief that he was a feminist, his personal life, etc.  

I was first introduced to Shaw during my Nobel Literature class. I didn’t know much about him except for the fact he was insulted by the prize and wanted to reject it. His wife made him accept it, but he did reject the money portion of the prize. He’d written a great number of plays which I hadn’t heard of or seen yet.

One of the discussions we had during class was that some people think that anything an author writes reflects their lives, their ideas and feelings. The author is the narrator. It isn’t necessarily true. For the most part the author is separate from their writings. They are the creator but the characters do not reflect them. They write from their imagination and it’s possible to throw yourself into the story and be entertained. Then you have authors who have an agenda. They have such strong beliefs about something that is permeates their writings. They are the narrator. It’s impossible to separate fact and fiction.

After that class, I happened to see a historical documentary that highlighted some statements Shaw made in support of Hitler and he made statements about killing off those people who were of no use to society. Because of the way he spoke, with his lighthearted lilt and tone and smiling face, I didn’t think he was serious. And I thought he was being taken out of context, so I did a bit a research and found out he was absolutely serious. He had a way about him, a mocking wit, which when you realize he was serious, made you realize how dangerous he was if anyone listened to him.

Shaw was a socialist and everything he wrote dealt with some sort of moralistic issue. He was very verbose and thought no one was as intelligent as him.    He felt it necessary to include a preface with every one of plays in order to explain exactly what the play was about and tell people this is what you are to think. He was that arrogant.

He called himself a feminist and a big believer in women’s rights, yet his attitude didn’t reflect that. Neither did his plays. He struck me as being very misogynistic.   He was very callous when it came to women and many of his male characters in his plays reflected that. In reading Shaw’s plays, reviews and words, it is very evident many of his works are autobiographical. Shaw, though he called himself feminist and said he believed in woman’s rights, most of his plays involving woman showed them in a position beneath men. He seemed to have little respect for woman portraying them as prostitutes, adulterers, lacking morals; poor and illiterate.

The characters emulated his thoughts and feelings, his politics and socialists ideals. However, he wrote in such a way, using comedy to get his point across. Without it, according to Pers Hallstrom in his presentation to Shaw during his Nobel literature prize presentation, folks probably would have tried to kill him instead for his mockery of life.

“What puzzled people the most was his rollicking gaiety. They were ready to believe that the whole thing was a game and a desire to startle. This was so far from being true that Shaw himself has been able to declare with a greater justice that his careless attitude was a mere stratagem. He had to fool people into laughing so they should not hit upon the idea of hanging him.”
His plays seemed to mirror his life.  He was married for 40 years to Charlotte Townsend, who was also involved in the Fabian Society. However, the marriage was never consummated and they slept in separate bedrooms. She was afraid of having children, and he didn’t care so was fine with the arrangement. He had a rather passionate correspondence affair with another woman, the actress who was given the lead role in the play Pygmalion.  

Speaking of Pygmalion, The lead character Henry Higgins was a confirmed bachelor who preferred hanging out with Colonel Pickering more than anyone else. He treated Eliza horribly. Shaw was disgusted when everyone who saw or read Pygmalion considered it a romantic comedy and assumed that in the end Eliza and Higgins got together. He wrote a sequel to the play which is included in the book, taking great efforts to explain they did not.

Father and I had quite a few discussions about Shaw and we both have come away with the idea that Shaw was a contradiction in terms. He swore he loved women, yet treated them carelessly and with disdain and portrayed them in his plays as prostitutes, adulterers, mindless and easily swayed, or poor and ignorant.

We both had the impression,  and other people have posited this as well, that Shaw was a repressed homosexual. Which, for him would have put him in grave danger, due to his dealings with Stalin, Hitler, and eugenics. Father thought it would have been an interesting issue to address, but it would have meant a lot more research and totally rewriting my paper, so just didn't go there.

It would be interesting for someone to study Shaw and his writings from a psychology, feminist or GLBT literary theory standpoint and see what they discover.  Great idea for thesis.  

My ultimate goal when I had decided to do this paper on Shaw was to learn more about him.  Did I achieve that goal?  You bet.  However, the more I found about him, the less I liked. 
Shaw used his work to further his political agenda. He did so through his plays, books, and essays. It was impossible to separate the man, the author, from the fictional characters in his plays. He caused a great deal of speculation and most people took his plays at face value, rather than being led by his words. Folks weren’t as feeble minded and as easily led as he thought.

What leaped out at me while researching George Bernard Shaw was that though he was very talented, he was to put it more simply, an arrogant, dangerous blowhard.  I'm sure there will be some that disagree and that's quite all right.  It is after all, my personal opinion.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow - The Secret of the Sea


The Secret of the Sea

Ah! what pleasant visions haunt me
  As I gaze upon the sea!
All the old romantic legends,
  All my dreams, come back to me.

Sails of silk and ropes of sandal,
  Such as gleam in ancient lore;
And the singing of the sailors,
  And the answer from the shore!

Most of all, the Spanish ballad
  Haunts me oft, and tarries long,
Of the noble Count Arnaldos
  And the sailor's mystic song.

Like the long waves on a sea-beach,
  Where the sand as silver shines,
With a soft, monotonous cadence,
  Flow its unrhymed lyric lines;--

Telling how the Count Arnaldos,
  With his hawk upon his hand,
Saw a fair and stately galley,
  Steering onward to the land;--

How he heard the ancient helmsman
  Chant a song so wild and clear,
That the sailing sea-bird slowly
  Poised upon the mast to hear,

Till his soul was full of longing,
  And he cried, with impulse strong,--
"Helmsman! for the love of heaven,
  Teach me, too, that wondrous song!"

"Wouldst thou,"--so the helmsman answered,
  "Learn the secret of the sea?
Only those who brave its dangers
  Comprehend its mystery!"

In each sail that skims the horizon,
  In each landward-blowing breeze,
I behold that stately galley,
  Hear those mournful melodies;

Till my soul is full of longing
  For the secret of the sea,
And the heart of the great ocean
  Sends a thrilling pulse through me.

Sunday Salon: Random thoughts about Audio book month, book banning and darkness in Young Adult Fiction

The Sunday

Since June is audio book month, I decided to try listening to some audio books. I'm not really an audio book person. I have a tendency to tune them out if I can't see the words because I get busy doing something and my brain tunes them out, unless I'm in the car where I can't do anything else except listen. The recommendation from those who love audio books was to listen to a book already read to get used to listening to stories. It takes a few according to those in the know.

I chose In The Garden trilogy by Nora Roberts. As I listened to the story in the car, the desire is to actually read the book. So after a few days of listening, what happened. Yep, picked up Blue Dahlia and rereading it. Now starting Black Rose. With all those unread books in the pile, you'd think I be picking on of those. Something heady and intellectual after all my urban fantasy binge. Nope - Nora is calling my name. Plus she is such a fantastic writer, getting those creative writing juices flowing again.

Speaking of creative juices, for my last class, I had to read "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn"  which was one of the most challenged books in the past due to the subject matter and the use of the 'n' word.   The class discussions were interesting because we were  1)  given the task of pretending we were a teacher trying to convince the school board not to remove the book from school curriculum and 2) responding to the other students as a parent who wanted the book banned. 

It was an interesting exercise because it made me look at both sides of the issue - the pros and cons.   It also confirmed my belief that books should not be banned.  However, what should be done is make sure books are age appropriate. There are just some books I think should be reserved for college age and adults, rather than middle age or high school students, because of their maturity levels. 

When I was in high school, 11th grade, two  of the books we were assigned for an English class was "The Clockwork Orange" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."   My parents were totally against me reading either book and when the school refused to substitute another book, they had me transferred into another class.    This was during the time period when Go Ask Alice came out about a teenage girl who was a drug addict.  That was considered one of the more controversial books during the 70's.   I did read Go Ask Alice at some point.  However, never had the desire to read Clockwork or Cuckoo's Nest.

I recently came across an article in the Wall Street Journal  entitled "Darkness Too Visible" about the darkness prevalent today in young adult books.  Many young adult fiction authors took to their blogs upset by the article, in defense of their books.   There are several links so take your time, check them out and come on back, let me know what you think.

Go ahead. I'll wait.  (examining finger nails.)  You back! Good.

To be honest, there are quite a few young adult novels with themes I won't read because of their content. But the same goes for adult novels as well.     There are always going to be books that some will consider too dark, where another person will think of it as the best book they ever read in the whole wide world.  It all depends on your perspective.  Is it any reason to ban a book, remove it from the shelves?  No.  It just means as a parent, we have to be diligent in paying attention to what our children are reading and open and willing to discuss whatever comes up.   You also have to know your child and what he/she can handle.  Sometimes I think homeschool parents have a better handle on that since we are with our kids practically 24/7. 

The science fiction/fantasy section is the only section I frequented in the bookstore or library when I was a teen.  Still have all the books I bought back then in boxes in the bottom of my closet. Periodically go through them and still just as good as they were then. Yes, some are really dark - no more so than what's out there today. I think if you just changed some of the covers on the ya books and stuck them in the sci fi section, minds would change. For some reason some sci fi is expected to be dark. 

Compared to Clockwork Orange or the other books of the early decades, are they more dark or just as dark?

Summertime - Goal? What goals? Spring Reading Thing and Row80 wrapup

Happy Summer!   Today is a great day because it is my nephew's 16th birthday.  Happy birthday "L."   I was fortunate to be my sister's birth coach and present at his birth.  Since I was a single gal at the time, it was an eyeopening, life changing awesome experience.   And I can hardly forget the day, can I...  :)

Happy to say I have accomplished a major goal which has been years in the making.   I have completed my Bachelor's Degree!!!!   I got an A on my final project about George Bernard Shaw.   Found out some interesting things about Shaw and basically, the more I found out, the less I liked. Will be writing a post to share my thoughts about him soon.   

And I received an A for the whole class.   A wonderful way to end the whole experience.   Technically I'm done and officially just have to wait for the school to review all and send my graduation application packet which will probably take a couple months.  My last class, Humanities Capstone, was much more involved than I expected and it took precedence over everything else the past couple months including my original goals for ROW80  working on my current WIP, completing The Artist's Way, and morning pages. To applaud and encourage the intrepid rowers who are still going strong, go here

Now that all my class stuff is behind me and James 5th grade home school lessons are winding done (we have 5 more weeks to go), I'm looking forward to being able to concentrate on finishing Red Thief.  The next round of Row80 begins on July 4th.  I'm going to be a sponsor this time so have to get to my pom poms ready for cheer leading my team.   Also need to work on a head shot for my sponsor bio.  Hmm!  

When I wasn't working on class papers or doing home school lessons with James, turned to fluffy, lighter reads the past month or so.  I had planned on reading a number of non fiction books for Spring Reading Thing and probably made it 1/3 of the way through two before threw in the towel on those.  My brain just couldn't absorb anymore so immersed myself in urban fantasy / paranormal romances.   I discovered Christine Feehan's Ghostwalker series and Lara Adrian's Midnight Breed series.   Thanks to Jackie and her crew over at Literary Escapism for introducing me to them. 

I hope to start catching up on some reading and book reviews soon as I've signed up for some interesting book tours for July including Stories for Sendai, Before I Go To Sleep and Tobacco Wars.    Off to start working on some new reading and writing goals.   

A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken.  ~James Dent

What are your goals for this summer? 

Sunday Salon: Down to the wire with school and Row 80 Check in

It's coming down to the wire. This week I'll be writing my my final paper for my final class for my Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts degree.  My final project paper is due June 19th and I will be


That's my goal for ROW80 this week.  This round ends June 23rd so go check in and see how everyone else is fairing for the final few days.  

You know what's so great? I've been thinking about it and all the writing I've done for my blogs and working on WIPs, has given me a confidence in myself, that I didn't have back in the early days.   I'm not stressing out or pulling my hair out wondering how I'm going to be able to accomplish this.  I know how to write.  I'm good at it. I love the process and all the research and reading and writing involved.  So if  anyone ever tells you blogging is just a waste of time, send them my way and I'll give them a piece of my mind.  

I'll be checking in through twitter or facebook.  If you see me on twitter, shoo me off to get back to work.  

The Sunday

I is for In The Woods

Tana French

Back cover:  The debut novel of an astonishing new voice in psychological suspense.  In Tana French's powerful debut thriller, three children leave their small Dublin neighborhood to play in the surrounding woods.  Hours later, their mothers' calls go unanswered.  When the police arrive, they find only one of the children, gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.

Twenty years later, Detective Rob Ryan --the found boy, who has kept his past a secret--and his partner Cassie Maddox investigate the murder of a twelve year old girl in the same woods.  Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance the uncover the mystery of the case before him,  and that of his own shadowy past. 

If it wasn't for the Ireland Reading Challenge, I probably would have never been introduced to Tana French's writing.  She's gone on to write two other novels "The Likeness" and "Faithful Place", both of which are now residing in my TBR pile waiting to be read.    It's one of those stories that gives you the chills, makes you want to shake the characters sometimes, bite your nails, talk back to the characters saying "no wait. don't do it."  French's writing pulls you in and the characters keep you there.   They are by no means perfect, have their flaws which makes the story more interesting. 

As I've discovered with stories set in and around Ireland, written by Irish authors, they always leave you with wanting more.   Sometimes you expect a happy ending and everything wrapped up neatly like a present with a bow at the end.  And sometimes, like life, the ending isn't so tidy and perfect.  The bow is kind of off kilter, the wrapping ripped and a corner of the present is peaking through.  Leaves you thinking!  

To find out more about Tana French and her books, check out her website.

Pages:  429
Publisher:  Viking Adult
Released:  May 17, 2007

Other thoughts:

"Not only does French craft a smart, unpredictable, well-told mystery that will keep readers guessing AND bring her characters to life with spot-on descriptions and true-to-life relationships, she does it all with wonderful writing.

"And let me tell you, I was shocked at the ending.  Beyond shocked.  It just went in the total opposite direction of what I expected, and I LOVED that." 

"Tana French does a brilliant job of bringing to life how it might feel to work as a detective, but she also adds a layer of psychological suspense that ratchets up the tension to the point where I felt like I was going to burst with anxiety."

*note - personal copy and personal opinion. I did not receive any compensation for my opinion, nor am I a amazon affiliate.

Sunday Salon - May wrap up and row80 check in

Stormy skies and rainbows yesterday enthralled us and kept us entertained for the day.  Plus read Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain for my Humanities class.  Realized I had never read it before, because if I had I would have remembered how much I hated it.   Yes, I thoroughly disliked the book.   The constant lying and getting away with the lying and the shenanigans of the Duke and the King and Tom's keeping the secret Jim was free and going through all sorts of machinations with Huck instead of just freeing him.   Between Huck's horrendous behavior and the use of the 'n' word I can see why some high schools and libraries banned the book.   Even if they do come out with a censored version of the book, it is still pretty horrendous.  

May was a mixed bag of reading paranormal and suspense romances and christian contemporary romances with a couple historical fiction novels thrown in for good measure.  

  1. Face of Danger -Roxanne St. Claire (e-book)
  2. Shiver of Fear - Roxanne St. Claire (e-book)
  3. Undertow - Cherry Adair  (e-book)
  4. Treachery in Death - J.D. Robb
  5. Ruthless Games #8 - Christine Feehan
  6. Crimson Wind - Diana Pharaoh Francis
  7. The Best Gift (#1 Sisters and Brides) - Irene Hannon (ebook)
  8. Gift From The Heart (#2 Sisters and Brides) - Irene Hannon (ebook)
  9. The Unexpected Gift (#3 Sisters and Brides) - Irene Hannon (ebook)
  10. Janeology - Karen Harrington
  11. The Preacher's Bride - Jody Hedlund
  12. Kiss the Moon - Carla Neggers
  13. Shadow Game #1 - Christine Feehan (ebook)

Highly recommend The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund, Janeology by Karen Harrington and The Silver Eagle by Ben Kane. All three for different reasons of course, because each is unique in it own right.  I'll also be writing reviews as soon as I can, but class stuff comes first.  I'll be doing a giveaway for The Silver Eagle. Speaking of Giveaways, I'm sending out the books everyone won from my blogoversary on Monday. Thanks for your patience.   

For the A to Z challenge for both author and title, I'm up to the L's.

ROW80 Sunday 6-5 check in  - doing morning pages first thing and plugging away with Red Thief, slowly but surely for half an hour every morning.

It is week 23 in the Read 52 Books in 52 weeks quest and this week I highlighted Virginia Woolf's essay "The Love of Reading."  Very eloquent and educational. Well worth reading.

Have a wonderful week and see you around the blogosphere! 

The Sunday

June 1st ROW80 Check in

April 4 to June 23rd.

June has arrived with a bit of blustery rain, thunder, lightning and hail.  So much for doing some gardening today. However, the ground will be soft for planting so grateful for that.   With the beginning of June I am recommitting myself to doing Morning Pages every day.   For those who don't know about morning pages,they are 3 handwritten pages of stream on consciousness writing that you do first thing in the morning.  Whatever comes into your head, don't censor and just write.  Has actually been quite beneficial and clears my head and warms me up for working on WIP.  

I'm currently in Week 11 of Julia Cameron's  "The Artist's Way" and once I'm done will move onward with  "Vein of Gold."   Coincidentally, Father is reading  "the Power of Focus" by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen (authors of chicken soul for the soul) and Les Hewitt  which is the business man's version of The Artist's Way.   He wants me to read once he's done and then we'll work out a list of goals together.  I've been waving "The Artist's Way" in front of his face for weeks and talking about it.  We are on the same page now, gave up watching all the negative new shows, and thinking more positively. 

My goal for the next week is going to be more school related than anything else.  Besides writing morning pages and working on current WIP for a half hour each morning,  I need to do some research on George Bernard Shaw for my final paper.  This week I'll be reading his play "Pygmalion" and comparing it to the movie. Also reading G.K. Chesterton's "George Bernard Shaw."    I'll also be reading "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" for class this week and analyzing it's appropriateness for high school students.  Fun, fun, week. 

Twenty three days left of round # 2, so check out how the rest of the group is doing and give them some encouragement.