Talk:George Bernard Shaw

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Good article George Bernard Shaw has been listed as one of the Language and literature good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
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Yes, he was Irish in that he was born in Ireland. But he wasn't Irish in the modern sense of the term. Ireland was still part of the UK when he was born there so his passport (if he had one) would probably say that he was British -- SteveCrook (talk) 17:24, 11 June 2008 (UTC)

The "modern" sense of the term still means someone born or releating to ireland, so therefore he is Irish. If he had a British passport then he would be a British citizen not of British natinality. Pro66 (talk) 13:56, 7 July 2008 (UTC)
"Irish" can mean someone born in Ireland or someone of Irish nationality. So the article is correct when it starts by calling GBS an Irish playwright and links "Irish" to Irish people. But what about in the Info box where it has "Nationality: Irish" and that also links "Irish" to Irish people? The problem with that, and with what you say about his being a British citizen but not of British nationality is the question of what does Nationality mean? Does "Nationality" in the Info box mean where someone was born or the state they pay allegiance to (and pay their taxes to). If it means where they were born then it's duplicating the country given in the "Born" section. The page about the Info box isn't explicit about what it means. But I notice that it does have other options for Ethnicity and Citizenship and the discussion page points out that "Nationality" often just isn't enough to describe someone -- SteveCrook (talk) 16:30, 7 July 2008 (UTC)

Is Shaw British or Irish? Because the Nobel Prize Committee says he is British. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:20, 7 June 2009 (UTC)

I have noticed this before with regards people born in Ireland: people say that his passport would have said British but the Act of Union 1800 states that the name of the state is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The idea of people being Irish or people being described as Irish or being from Ireland does exist before Irish Nationalism. I don't think it is an error to describe him as Irish —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:36, 3 August 2009 (UTC)

Look at it differently. Was Julius Caesar Roman or Italian? He was born in Rome, Rome is today a part of Italy, but Italy as a state didn't exist at the time. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:24, 11 September 2009 (UTC)
But Ireland has existed as a nation for at least a millenia, long predating the UK state. By the logic you're using Aodh Mór Ó Néill, Brian Boru, Patrick Sarsfield and countless others in Irish history were not Irish because "they predate the state of Ireland". By your logic not a single 'Irishman' existed until the 6 December 1922. No sense at all to it (to be polite). (talk) 16:18, 30 July 2010 (UTC)

SteveCrook, by that logic then Michael Collins and Eamon De Valera were British then? Obviously not. Bernard Shaw has even referred to himself as Irish so I think that settles that dispute. As for the Nobel Prize Committee saying he was British, it is clear that they gave him a more "respectable" title at the time. It's like with Richard Harris. Clearly Irish but was labelled British by newspapers when he has accomplished something great! Yet described as Irish when he did something bad. Jamie Kelly (talk) 07:11, 24 June 2010 (UTC)

The whole point of the word "British" is to have a term for subjects of the United Kingdom regardless of their nationality. In this context, GBS's nationality is very clearly and quite indisputably Irish - he was born in Ireland, and in spite of living and working for many years in England he certainly never reounced his "Irishness" - so describing him as Irish in the lead is quite correct. On the other hand at the time all Irish people were citizens of the United Kingdom, and legally entitled to the privilages and subject to the duties involved. So all Irish people were also "British" - or at least "British subjects". The Nobel prize committee, rather pedantically perhaps but not incorrectly, classed him from their standpoint and in this context as "British". Nowadays, Ireland no longer being part of the United Kingdom, the situation is obviously otherwise. Scottish people, for instance, have been "British" since the reign of James I/VI - but if the Scottish Nationalists even succeed in their aim then the whole "British" thing goes out the window, and even the English will be just "English" again. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 21:00, 14 November 2010 (UTC)

I think by putting 'Irish?' (with a question mark) is quite misleading because it seems to suggest that Shaw is not Irish at all it just seems very extreme. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:27, 11 February 2011 (UTC)

From the Preface to John Bull's Other Island, -

'When I say that I am an Irishman I mean that I was born in Ireland, and that my native language is the English of Swift and not the unspeakable jargon of the mid-XIX. century London newspapers. My extraction is the extrac- tion of most Englishmen : that is, I have no trace in me of the commercially imported North Spanish strain which passes for aboriginal Irish : I am a genuine typical Irishman of the Danish, Norman, Cromwellian, and (of course) Scotch invasions. I am violently and arrogantly Protestant by family tradition ; but let no English Government therefore count on my allegiance : I am English enough to be an inveterate Republican and Home Ruler. It is true that one of my grandfathers was an Orangeman ; but then his sister was an abbess ; and his uncle, I am proud to say, was hanged as a rebel. When I look round me on the hybrid cosmopolitans, slum poisoned or square pampered, who call themselves Englishmen today, and see them bullied by the Irish Protestant garrison as no Bengalee now lets himself be bullied by an Englishman; when I see the Irishman everywhere standing clearheaded, sane, hardily callous to the boyish sentimentalities, susceptibilities, and credulities that make the Englishman the dupe of every charlatan and the idolater of every numskull, I perceive that Ireland is the only spot on earth which still produces the ideal English- man of history.'

Desperate to be idiosyncratic in other words.

1. Sign your posts in discussion pages Mr. Anonymous.

2. What does "desperate to be idiosyncratic" mean - Shaw is simply making a point about nationalism (and, worse, racism) and contrasting it with legitimate national pride. Not especially idiosyncratic at all - more like a breath of sanity.

3. How does this impinge on our article - what changes would you like to make based on your perception of Shaw as being idiosyncratic just for the sake it (nonsense - but let that pass for the moment)? Dicussion pages are not intended as forums or intended for general discussions of the subject concerned. This discussion, to put it another way, is about this article, which in turn happens to be about Shaw. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 01:27, 11 December 2011 (UTC)

Tetchy aren't you. I think that one should simply leave his nationality as Irish with maybe the addition of that quotation to demonstrate where he placed himself in terms of Irishness. It's not my fault if you can't understand the basic importance of a man's articulation of his loyalties in a discussion about nationality, and I would hardly describe such a ranting bit of literary flatulence as a breath of sanity. (talk) 21:45, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
Sorry if I came across as "tetchy" - at my advanced age it comes with the territory. But there is no need for this quote (much less an out-of-context quotation from it) here - this is a brief encyclopedia article, not a book length autobiography. As you say, his nationality was Irish - no need whatever to elaborate - that WOULD be "literary" (or at least encyclopedic) flatulence. The very point of the quote (incidentally it is more a chuckle than a "rant", based on a VERY tongue-in-cheek jibe that the Irish are better "Englishmen" in the best sense of the word than the English themselves) makes the whole question of his nationality LESS notable than it might have been otherwise, not more. A general observation, if I may be permitted: it is impossible to read Shaw with comprehension, much less pleasure, without a sense of humour. Some people (no fault of theirs) just don't have it. A bit like being tone deaf or colour blind. We all have our limitations, when all is said and done. If Shaw had one himself it might have been that he actually enjoyed being misunderstood by people he despised - but that certainly doesn't belong in an encyclopedia article about him either! --Soundofmusicals (talk) 00:45, 12 December 2011 (UTC)

Put it down to puckishness on my part that I felt like pasting the quote and getting in a little dig at the old chap. I've read a fair bit of Shaw and have no difficulty in grasping his tone, I just feel he tried too hard too often, but as you said, this doesn't belong in this discussion. Although I still think something about ancestry is important with the likes of Shaw, Yeats, O'Casey, Synge, etc, — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:43, 12 December 2011 (UTC)

Most people who venture negative criticism of Shaw nowadays are doing so from a far-right point of view, and their main line of attack is to take satirical remarks of his (i.e. about 99% of what he wrote) out of context. Pleased to realise you had no such intent - but you might forgive me for supposing you had. Not sure I would class Shaw (or at least his writings) as "Irish" in quite the same sense as of those of (say) Synge. But we are well into POV and OR here. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 23:52, 15 December 2011 (UTC)


Is the sentence "He supported the Stalinist regime, dismissing the reports on famine as falsehoods" really appropriate for the introduction (or the article as a whole)? Shaw's feelings towards the Soviet Union are better left for the body of the article and not in awkward and out of place sentences in the introduction. -Matt —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:53, 19 January 2009 (UTC)

Whether we like it or not, Shaw was not only widely noted as a playwright and wit, but also for his political views, and he was very far from shy of endorsing Stalin and his regime: rather, he broadcast in praise of Stalin's "worker's paradise", much to the disgust of intellectuals trapped in Stalinist Russia on one side, and on the other persuading desperate workers from the depression-struck America to try their luck there, many of them ending up in the gulag.
At the moment, Shaw is presented as a staunch champion of the working classes and in that aspect - within the lead - is shown in a favourable light undisturbed by any question that he might have been gullible and at the very least fallible in his judgement of what causes he championed. Can someone explain to me (and other editors) why this information should be kept out of the lead? Alfietucker (talk) 23:48, 26 July 2014 (UTC)
A great deal of matter - some of it even more significant than this, is "kept out of the lead" (or at least not mentioned here, but in its proper context in the article). Specific mention of controversial matters, in particular, is really better left to the body of an article, where they can receive coverage that is not simplistic or superficial.
And then... if Stalin, why not Hitler? if both of them, why not vaccination? (he was hysterically opposed to it, of course). And the rest... he really had an awful lot of controversial ideas you know, and that's not counting the ones that most people are agreed were largely ironical. Could we really list all Shaw's "funny" opinions in the lead without converting it into a mini-article? The problem would be wording a sufficiently succinct summary in a totally NPOV manner - and then getting a "reliable source" citation for what we said that would satisfy the "cite everything" brigade. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 01:04, 27 July 2014 (UTC)
I take your point that there is a great deal "kept out of the lead", but contest the idea that because we can't put in all Shaw's controversial stance we not only leave them *all* out but even fail to acknowledge their existence in the lead. Furthermore, I would question your claim that his support of Hitler was as incontrovertible as his support for Stalin: that seems to me nonsense, not even supported by the article itself.
Wikipedia is not in the business of whitewashing or softening the character of any of its subjects, so I do think that there has to be at least some allusion to Shaw's more controversial stances. How about, following "...serving on the London County Council.": "Shaw was noted for taking extreme views, whether on vegetarianism (branding non-vegetarians "cannibals"), or on population control (delivering several speeches in favour of eugenics), or in politics (being a notable supporter and apologist for the USSR under Stalin)." This would a) acknowledge that Shaw had some controversial/eccentric positions which he made very public; b) identify/acknowledge some of the most controversial of these.
We do not, of course, need to give citations in the lead so long as its statements are supported with proper citations to RS in the main article. Alfietucker (talk) 10:03, 27 July 2014 (UTC)
I was thinking of something along those lines, actually. Tried a few trial sentences myself but rejected all of them as being too POV. Yours is better than any of mine, but I think it still needs some tweaking. I would phrase the "eugenics" one differently - Shaw had a lot more to say about the "improving the breed" aspect of eugenics than "population control". Among other eccentricities, he was in favour of encouraging young women to choose the fathers of their children regardless of race or class, marrying, or at least procreating, outside what he called "narrow cliques". His ideas on "politics" as such (quite eccentric enough) are also separate from his (at times quite friendly attitude towards thirties dictators). He had no great love of democracy as such, especially after the disillusion he felt after the First World War, and praised (or excused) the dictators more to have a dig at so called "freedom". Like Gore Vidal in our own time he was very conscious of the many flaws of British style "democracy". He was under the illusion that Stalin was a socialist (he was nothing of the kind, of course) - but so were a lot of people at the time. My dear old dad was pretty devastated by Kruschev's revelations about Stalin - I know a lot of much more moderate socialists than Shaw who were too. Agree with you about unnecessary tags - doesn't mean we won't get them, alas.
What about this:

Shaw was noted for taking extreme views, whether on vegetarianism (branding his own pre-vegetarian self a "cannibal"), the development of the human race (his own brand of eugenics, driven by miscegenation and marrying across class lines), or in politics (in spite of his own liberal views he is recorded as supporting, or at least condoning, the dictators of the nineteen thirties.

Just a draft. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 15:39, 27 July 2014 (UTC)
That's reasonable, and certainly far better than having no mention of his controversial views at all. Thank you. Alfietucker (talk) 18:42, 27 July 2014 (UTC)
As far as I can tell, this seems fair-minded, even-handed and encyclopedical in style. The parenteses may perhaps be overly long for such a short paragraph, but we can sort that out later; for what it is worth, I wholeheartedly support that the paragraph is made part of the text. Sirion123 (talk) 13:04, 29 July 2014 (UTC)

His name (Part II)[edit]

Talk:George Bernard Shaw/Archive 1#His name discusses this briefly. He's often referred to as simply "Bernard Shaw", although only in certain places, apparently. For example, in Australia, it's only ever "George Bernard Shaw", or occasionally "GBS". I distinctly remember the first time I ever heard him referred to as "Bernard Shaw", which was about 25 years after I'd first heard of him. At first I didn't know who they were talking about, then the penny dropped.

I certainly don't advocate moving the article to "Bernard Shaw", but I think we ought to make some reference to the fact that that's what he gave as his name, and what he's known as to millions of people. -- JackofOz (talk) 04:45, 16 June 2009 (UTC)

He preferred to be called plain Bernard Shaw. "Don't George me" he used to say. (talk) 13:47, 18 May 2013 (UTC)

Nobel & Oscar[edit]

Shaw is no longer the only person to have won a Nobel and an Oscar; Al Gore has won both. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:41, 7 August 2009 (UTC)

Only person to win Nobel Prize and Oscar?[edit]

Correct me if I'm wrong, but hasn't Al Gore also won a Nobel Prize and an Oscar? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:15, 29 September 2009 (UTC)

No, An Inconvenient Truth won an Oscar, but Gore only featured in the film - he was not personally awarded the Oscar, which goes to the director. [1] (talk) 00:24, 2 October 2009 (UTC)
To the best of my knowledge the second comment is correct. Therefore I suggest rephrasing the article to point out that Shaw is not the first but indeed the only winner of both awards. If nobody objects I am going to change it. Robinandroid (talk) 16:53, 12 June 2010 (UTC)


Shaw was against vivisection and he elaborates on this issue in length in the preface of Doctor's Dilemma. Do you think this deserve a place in this article?Tavanarasi (talk) 10:15, 14 January 2010 (UTC) (talk) 10:11, 14 January 2010 (UTC)

Long ago, decades before the Internet, I read somewhere that Bernard Shaw's father lost his eyesight because of wrong treatment, and this made Shaw very skeptical of the entire medical field, which reflected in The Doctor's Dilemma; I also read that the doctor who treated his father was Sir William Wilde, father of Oscar Wilde! Can someone vouch for this story? Both fathers were living in Dublin. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Gopalan evr (talkcontribs) 17:58, 1 March 2012 (UTC)

Far too many important facts missing[edit]

In the BBC's weekly magazine, Shaw made a 1933 "appeal to the chemists to discover a humane gas that will kill instantly and painlessly. Deadly by all means, but humane not cruel..." His appeal would shortly come to fruition in Nazi Germany. As Robert Jay Lifton notes in The Nazi Doctors, "The use of poison gas—first carbon monoxide and then Zyklon B—was the technological achievement permitting 'humane killing.'"

Shaw admired not just Stalin, but Mussolini and even Hitler. He despised freedom, writing, "Mussolini... Hitler and the rest can all depend on me to judge them by their ability to deliver the goods and not by... comfortable notions of freedom." Asked what Britons should do if the Nazis crossed the channel into Britain, Shaw replied, "Welcome them as tourists."—Preceding unsigned comment added by Thismightbezach (talkcontribs) 09:35, 23 January 2010 (UTC)

Can we have cites for all this? Your recent addition isn't cited, but I haven't challenged it because at some time or other I have heard an old recording along these lines.--Old Moonraker (talk) 10:07, 23 January 2010 (UTC)
This might have part of what you're thinking about. ChelydraMAT This cursed Ograbme! 06:00, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
Somebody at has been attempting to suppress this link and the transcription in the article. I'm inclined to keep it (after all, it is evidence - however partial - of what the man actually said) until someone can provide a fuller context - ie from a more complete version of the original film of GBS - but will indicate clearly that this is a portion of film that has been used in the documentary The Soviet Story. If our friend at or anyone else still persists in deleting this, then I can only assume they are doing this for the sake of censorship rather than providing a more balanced portrait of GBS. Alfietucker (talk) 17:58, 22 May 2010 (UTC)
It is well documented that Shaw supported Stalin, Hitler and Mussolini - surely one of the few people to do so. I think this is noteworthy. (talk) 13:53, 18 May 2013 (UTC)

General Complaint on Style[edit]

This article contains far too many subjective comments by its various authors. Sentences such as it should be remembered that Shaw played a great role in Brittish literature or Shaw's writing style was so different that it's difficult to believe him the author (paraphrases) have no place in an article written for an encyclopedia. I cannot find and change them all, but I should like to point them out to any who may happen upon an example. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Homo Ergaster (talkcontribs) 12:18, 6 May 2010 (UTC)

I would like to add that I agree with the above about the style of the entry. There is far too much use of 'paradox' and 'irony' to obscure solid sources. On RELIGION, do we presume that GBS not wanting a cross associated with him was also irony? Some of the entries are too subjective and sound more like an apology than a best as possible objective encyclopedic reading.Mogger12345 (talk) 18:40, 9 August 2011 (UTC)9.8.11 Nick
Shaw is very unpopular with the "right" simply because he demolishes them so frequently, thoroughly and effectively - one of their strategies in response is to "prove" that Shaw held some right of centre views himself. Since Shaw was far from a doctrinaire "lefty" there is actually a tiny grain of truth in some of this, and because he was heavily into irony, it is easy enough manufacture or exaggerate real or supposed Shavian right wing views. For all that, most of the sources you mention are very far from "solid" - in fact they are shamelessly politically motivated: at best dragged out of context, and at worst palpable distortions. It is a shame, frankly, to have to mention them at all. Unambiguous truth is not "balanced" with slimy falsehood. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 00:56, 11 August 2011 (UTC)

Shaw and "the religion of Muhammad"[edit]

This supposed quote has just been deleted. I just googled it, out of interest, and it turns out to be a forgery. It comes from Volume 1, issue 8, of Genuine Islam, published by the "International Union of Islamic Propaganda and Service", Singapore, in 1936—see New York Public Library record, here. It seems that Shaw didn't write it; it was made up or, at best, a wilfully loose paraphrase from an informal interview between Shaw and Abdul Aleem Siddiqi. It's all a bit muddled, but a good starting point is Being an Unforgivably Protracted Debunking of George Bernard Shaw’s Views of Islam, here. Debunking probably wouldn't make it into the article as a reliable source, though, but then neither should Genuine Islam. --Old Moonraker (talk) 06:12, 30 June 2010 (UTC)

Is Nancy Thuleen link a reliable source?[edit]

According to her homepage this is just a collection of undergrad and grad school essays that she's posted on the internet for a while. There's no reason to treat her as a reliable source. Moreover, her essays contain individual citations to the scholarly literature so it's those references that should be checked and then cited to. On at least one occasion, in her "German Requiem" article, she cites a source stating that the Franco-Prussian War ended in 1866! So either her source or her citation is incorrect there; it would be wise since she does not appear to meet WP:RS any more than if she had put up her undergraduate essays on a geocities page, for such references to be checked rather than simply changing our references to match her citations without double-checking them. TheGrappler (talk) 17:25, 30 August 2010 (UTC)

Index marks unrelated to this article's footnotes.[edit]

I see that this contribution contains index marks to footnotes numbered in the mid two-hundreds (e.g., empty a good deal of respectable morality out like so much dirty water, and replace it by new and strange customs” (264). Freedom from “common ideals” (267),) whereas the article here only goes up to (84), at the time of writing. Does this mean that the edit has been lifted from somewhere else and, if so, can anyone identify where? --Old Moonraker (talk) 21:14, 18 September 2010 (UTC)

  • It looks like these may be page numbers in Nethercot's book (footnote 25); maybe someone can confirm this. I'd favor splitting the new section off into a separate article. Ewulp (talk) 00:15, 19 September 2010 (UTC)
That's my preferred solution as well; at present this one essay by Shaw has WP:UNDUE prominence in this general article. Waiting now to see if the OP has a view before making a spinoff article. As the addition's been sourced to Nethercot's book the material would be a legitimate addition and not a [WP:COPYVIO]], as I first suspected.--Old Moonraker (talk) 07:08, 19 September 2010 (UTC)
Done. --Old Moonraker (talk) 07:10, 21 September 2010 (UTC)


I have no interest in a WikiWar, but this section is frankly embarrassing. Reading Shaw's quotes and letters in the NYT or the preface to "On the Rocks" and it's clear that:

1) He believed in eugenics including the killing of the unfit without a hint of irony. 2) He vigorously defended Hitler, Stalin and Mao again without irony.

Now that doesn't necessarily detract from the value of his work, but for God's sake, why make Wikipedia look foolish when "Conservapedia" can just refer people directly to dozens of NY Times articles like this:

How silly to pretend that this stuff came from Glenn Beck. Beck is just quoting Snore the NYT. Pretending that this a Glenn Beck dispute and trying to push a false interpretation of is simply false. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:08, 27 July 2011 (UTC)

George Bernard Shaw's comments on having people appear before a board to "justify their existence" were meant to be sarcastic. He was expressing his disagreement with some of the more vulgar eugenicists of his time. The linked source is a clip from Glenn Beck's extremely biased show on Fox News. It is taken out of context, and is a deliberate misrepresentation of Shaw's position.-- (talk) 15:37, 13 November 2010 (UTC)

If it's satirical, why is he using the exact same words ("are you pulling your weight in the social boat?etc") when justifying the "liquidating" done by the soviet police? (talk) 22:46, 3 November 2014 (UTC)

So much of GBS is ironic (sarcastic if you like) - we know well enough what he really thought about any important subject. Because he was so very "left wing" people of the opposite persuasion sometimes have a field day pulling sarcastic things he said out of context. Read the article on satire. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 21:22, 14 November 2010 (UTC)
Right. My concern is that, while we sit around here agreeing on things that are true, the article remains false. How is it that such atrocious misinformation can be kept on a Wikipedia article for so long? And how did a clip from Glenn Beck ever pass as a valid source?-- (talk) 05:29, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
Actually most "eugenics" concentrated on "low" class people like coal miners and dustmen - suggesting that they "bred like flies" and that it would improve humanity if they could be sterilised or otherwise prevented from having children. Shaw (from memory) was doing his usual and turning the argument on its head by suggesting that upper class drones should have to justify their existence. By all means correct the article - you certainly won't get any flack from me! On the other hand we're supposed to be "neutral" here - if we're going say GBS was being ironical in this case (or even that anything he said was ever ironical) we do need a source, or the sieg heil brigade will be back to revert you. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 05:44, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
I agree this section could/should be re-worked to properly reflect his true beliefs and the satire which may obfuscate those beliefs. I've started [2] by re-ordering the last paragraph and rewording the first sentence in that paragraph. I'm doubtful that the YouTube source is enough for the 'humane gas' bit as mentioned, so I've tagged it for improvement. I also agree with needing additional sources which properly discuss his use of irony. Sophisticated humor is often misunderstood and/or misinterpreted, whether intentional or not, and especially when quoted out of context. -PrBeacon (talk) 05:49, 13 December 2010 (UTC)
Couple of refs added, but agreed: we aren't there yet. The bald statements at the beginning are referenced from modern journalism casually throwing Shaw's name into lists of supporters, rather than from any careful analysis of his position, as quoted later in the section. This gives the wrong impression at the outset.--Old Moonraker (talk) 08:13, 13 December 2010 (UTC)
I've made a few tweaks, rather than the re-work called for above, but are they sufficient to remove the {{Disputed-section|date=November 2010}} tag? --Old Moonraker (talk) 09:43, 13 December 2010 (UTC)
The reference for "Shaw claimed only eugenics could save mankind" ([73] at the time of this posting) is from State of Fear, a thriller about global warming by Michael Crichton. Fiction can't be used as a source, so I've tagged it {{Verify credibility}}. This is to give contributors a chance to defend it before deletion. --Old Moonraker (talk) 08:55, 14 December 2010 (UTC)
OK; no complaints: implementing. --Old Moonraker (talk) 16:11, 19 December 2010 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── That U-tube clip from The Soviet Story is linked from here twice. As far as I can see they both fail WP:ELNEVER and so should be removed. I think the movie misunderstands Shaw's satire, but I'm suggesting de-linking only on policy grounds. --Old Moonraker (talk) 21:30, 17 January 2011 (UTC)

OK, no defenders. Deleting. --Old Moonraker (talk) 11:45, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

Deleting Eugenics Section[edit]

I have deleted the eugenics section.

The primary source, Dan Stone [3], makes a highly controversial and poorly-argued [4] attempt to link Shaw and eugenics, which has been picked up by Glen Beck, the World Future Fund and Conservipedia: [5][6][7].

All of these sources use incomplete and out of context quotations.

"At a meeting of the Eugenics Education Society of 3 March 1910 he suggested the need to use a 'lethal chamber' to solve their problem."

The only available source for this claim is Dan Stone's book, linked above. He incompletely cites a Daily Telegraph account of Shaw's speech. Note that the entire speech is not available. In Dan Stone's quote, Shaw uses bouletic [8] terms like "should" and "would". Because Dan Stone is employing selective quotation, it is not possible to say whose desires Shaw is discussing. Shaw's? The eugenics community? Society? England? Russia? A hypothetical world Shaw is describing to prove a point? And unjust society? A just society? No context is given, so ALL of these readings are equally defensible. That's to say NONE of them are defensible without more context.

And given that Shaw's entire works paint him as a pacifist and proponent of human rights and decency, it is incorrect to be taken by Dan Stone's faulty logic and conclude without better and more extensive evidence that Shaw somehow supported Hitler and eugenics.Clotten (talk) 23:13, 27 March 2011 (UTC)

(edit conflict)::Stone is not the only source for the section deleted (and there are many more which could be ref'd). Are you suggesting that Stone should be considered an unreliable source, or that this article should make no mention whatever of Shaw's views on eugenics, or is it your intention to re-instate the section in a more 'neutral' way? RashersTierney (talk) 23:43, 27 March 2011 (UTC)

I've expanded the references and put it back. The section's references are quite widely drawn: we are not just relying on Stone. Agreeing, though, that this needs context to make the best sense of it.--Old Moonraker (talk) 23:35, 27 March 2011 (UTC)
I am saying that Dan Stone's argument is completely unreliable. If this has any place on Shaw's page, it's in a section labeled controversy. Clotten (talk) 23:58, 27 March 2011 (UTC)
I also don't find the Time Magazine citation reliable since it is not a scholarly work and does not cite any sources, quotations, evidence, proof or even conjecture. Clotten (talk) 23:59, 27 March 2011 (UTC)
I'm sure many editors would agree with you about the Time reference, but carrying one citation from a non-scholarly source doesn't call for the deletion of the whole section.--Old Moonraker (talk) 07:47, 28 March 2011 (UTC)
One "Stone" reference replaced with a couple from Daniel Kevles, Yale. Any better? --Old Moonraker (talk) 09:41, 28 March 2011 (UTC)
Okay well I'm not a sophisticated wikipedia user by any stretch of the imagination. Just be aware that this section is being actively edited to construct a narrative that insinuates that Shaw advocated some sort of violent policy, something which is clearly false to anyone who reads what Shaw actually said, not what he is "quoted" to have said, not when every quote includes a convenient ellipses . Note the quotation about "lethal gas". It is taken entirely out of context: Shaw was discussing what society OUGHT to do IF they were going to insist on continuing to kill people as an excuse to not deal with what he called social incorrigibility. But clearly Old Moonraker is in charge here so no use in me fighting him.Clotten (talk) 15:57, 28 March 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Some material sourced from Glen Beck removed, as suggested. The World Future Fund isn't a WP:RS and material sourced from here also trimmed. --Old Moonraker (talk) 08:49, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

I agree that neither of those sources are credible, but it's important that if this section is going to stay as you insist that the point of view of this line of thought is accurately ascribed to the people who ARE trying to convince people that Shaw is a violent eugenicist. This section has the same quotes but pretends they aren't coming from people who are in support of modern eugenics and totalitarianism, like the World Future Fund. Since you're the wikipedia editor I'd like your advice on how do this in a way that is congruent with wikipedia's policies. Clotten (talk) 19:34, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
Please broaden the range of references from reliable sources. I don't agree that the existing ones are biased—as I said on your talk page, editors (note the plural: this is a community effort) have gradually managed to get rid of the worst examples—but if they are, then increasing the spread will serve to dilute their effect. --Old Moonraker (talk) 21:01, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

Umm, there is footage of Mr. Wells laying out his ideas to have a eugenics panel to kill unproductive members of society. There is no reason to conclude that any of this was intended ironically.those He calls for the extermination of those "swarms of blacks, and brown, and dirty-white, and yellow people" in his Anticipations, and defends it in his autobiography, again without a hint of irony. He has long been associated with the Fabian Society, admitted here, which has its own connections to eugenics. This must be why the eugenics section is still up, despite Moonraker's frantic attempts to whitewash this article, and to present a balanced and unbiased view by removing anything that might be less than complimentary to Wells. More lines like "he endorsed that executions be carried out humanely" should be included by the Wells propaganda wing, as they will accelerate Wikis's descent into popular contempt. -Vision —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:38, 24 April 2011 (UTC)

What have my edits to the article on fellow Fabian Wells got to do with this? AFAICR (I haven't bothered to check) my last there was an explanation of a Google Doodle pun. As for Shaw, anything that accurately reflects reliable sources doesn't need the whitewash bucket, frantically applied by me or with care and consideration from other the other regular contributors. Examples, please?--Old Moonraker (talk) 08:05, 25 April 2011 (UTC)
Point is that the "footage" is a very brief extract - and there is EVERY reason (like almost everything GBS said and did through a long and active life) that this is pulled totally out of context. Moonraker has been trying very hard (and completely dispassionately) to get this section right - anything very much less like "whitewashing" I have yet to see. All your diatribe establishes is that you are either unaware of the importance of, or deliberately choose to flout, Wikipedia's very wise rules about the futility of personal attacks. For your information - the Anticipations are by H.G. Wells - a distinct and separate person - by no means a sockpuppet or clone of Shaw's - who had many radically different ideas from Shaw, although even his (Wells' not Shaw's) quote about the races (bad as it is) you manage to distort and make worse than it is. And it is NOT Shaw and has no relevance to anything here. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 13:11, 25 April 2011 (UTC)

Since the issue begins to pop up in German wikipedia as well, I would like to express my surprise that Shaw is quoted on such an important issue from such an obscure source like The Soviet Story, which clearly does not fulfill WP:V. Apart from that omninous 1910 speech, which apparently has never appeared in print, Shaw discusses euthanasia somewhat sarcastically in his preface to the The Doctor's Dilemma and in his preface to the Webbs' (Sidney & Beatrice) English Prisons under Local Government (1921). Thus Shaw argues provocatively within two distinct contexts. In one context, speaking of an overburdened health care system, he discusses the ethical question, whether and how "a choice between those worthy and those unworthy to be treated, and presumably saved" (as quoted by Archibald Henderson: George Bernard Shaw. Cincinnati 1911, p. 389) should be made, and concludes: "No doubt the higher the life we secure to the individual by wise social organization, the greater his value is to the community, and the more pains we shall take to pull him through any temporary danger or disablement. But the man who costs more than he is worth is doomed by sound hygiene as inexorably as by sound economics." (The Doctor's Dilemma, p. xciv) - just as sarcastically as he concludes "Treat persons who profess to be able to cure disease as you treat fortune tellers." (p. xciii) In the other context, treated somewhat superficially by Dan Stone, Shaw makes a case for abolitionism, claiming that imprisonment is no more sensitive than "the lethal solution" and that capital punishment does not lower the standard of humanity as continuing penalties do. He claimed that he was dealing "with a very small class of human monsters," about a tenth the number of whom were presently being executed. (p. xxxiv) This issue was of lifelong importance for Shaw, whose first paper read in front of the Zetetical Society in 1882 was on the virtues of Capital Punishment over Life imprisonment. (Holroyd, 1998, p. 75). Shaw picked up on this in a somewhat tasteless letter to The Times, published on March 5th, 1945, claiming that as soon as "the necessary work of 'weeding the garden' becomes better understood" there would be "State-contrived euthanasia for all idiots and intolerable nuisances, not punitively, but as a necessary stroke of social economy." (Brian P. Block, John Hostettler: Hanging in the balance: A History of the Abolition of Capital Punishment in Britain. Winchester 1997, pp. 102-3.) In short, there is plenty of source material available to treat the issue in a more contextualized way than suggested by The Soviet Story. For a much needed discussion of Shaw's complex relationship to Fabianism and eugenics one might refer to Mike Hawkins: Social Darwinism in European and American thought, 1860-1945: Nature as model and nature as threat. Cambridge 1997. There is also a German dissertation on that topic (Sören Niemann-Findeisen: Weeding the garden. Die Eugenik-Rezeption der frühen Fabian Society. Münster 2004), but it is not very instructive on Shaw. --Assayer (talk) 19:32, 18 June 2011 (UTC)

Many editors here would like to see that replaced by something firmer, but any attempt to do so—the history goes back much further than the example above—is repulsed with a chorus of "whitewash". Could it perhaps be time to try again to get this section into proper context, with the sources User:Assayer has found?--Old Moonraker (talk) 20:18, 18 June 2011 (UTC)
Imho there is a difference between upholding WP:V and ideological "whitewash". Shaw was very outspoken about his idea of the "lethal chamber", (in addition to his utterings mentioned above, one might also consult his preface to Major Barbara), and his views are very well documented by secondary literature. I find it difficult to rule out obscure Fox News footage on German wikipedia for failing the standards of WP:V, (which, I think, it clearly does) as long as it used as reference here. Moreover, context is to be provided, i. e. information about Shaw's notions of crime, imprisonment, capital punishment and about what has been termed "Shavian religion". Btw, as the text of his 1934 BBC broadcast edited by Leonard Conolly (p. 189) makes very clear, Shaw did not call for the development of a "deadly" but "humane" gas for the purpose of euthanasia, but spoke about modes of modern warfare. Given the use of Chemical weapons in World War I that call does not seem to be so outrageous as Mr. Beck would have us to believe.--Assayer (talk) 02:31, 19 June 2011 (UTC)
Besides, how can a quote from a 1934 Shaw broadcast be used indiscriminately in a paragraph which deals with a 1910 Shaw speech anyway? - Unless, of course, someone intends to insinuate an even creepier connection to the Nazi Holocaust. As a final hint, Shaw was one of the founding members of the British Voluntary Euthansia Legalization Society (Dowbiggin. Concise History of Euthanasia, p. 81.) The emphasis is on „voluntary euthanasia“.--Assayer (talk) 13:12, 19 June 2011 (UTC)
As above: direct links to copyright material (at least, Reuters is claiming the copyright) are not allowed—see WP:ELNEVER. The YouTube link deleted. --Old Moonraker (talk) 09:30, 31 July 2011 (UTC)

In the Lead section[edit]

I looked at Shaw after researching Nobel Laureate Alexis Carrel, listed as a "eugenicist" on his Wiki page. By the looks of it, people are deleting the label of "eugenicist" from Shaw, as people did for awhile from Carrel, because they view it as a slur. This is much like noting someone as a "slave promoter" in that it is a slur by today's standards and yet it was widely accepted in the 18th C. Eugenics was a popular phenomenon embraced by many in the scientific and other intellectual communities in the late 19th early 20th century, while opposed by some others (notably G. K. Chesterton.) Making information difficult to find helps no one to understand the times and the rise of movements like these. Because many people come to this article because of their historical interest in eugenics, and because the article contains a major section about it, the word should appear in the opening of it just like it does in the Carrel article. Kris (talk)

What needs to go in the lede is "Why the person is significant", as WP:MOSBIO puts it. As I noted on the contributor's talk page, Shaw's significance lies in his plays and literary criticism. People coming to the article "because of their ... interest in eugenics" should note that the section dealing with this is already unduly large: it is, for example, bigger that the "Legacy" and "Religion" paragraphs put together. As regards "just like it do in the Carrel article": The wikipedia version of "two wrongs don't make a right" is here. --Old Moonraker (talk) 14:56, 3 October 2011 (UTC)
The material has been reinserted in the lede, but with a little more context. Views on this new version? BTW, the verbatim quote in my last included a verbatim typo, which has now been fixed in the original.
--Old Moonraker (talk) 15:11, 3 October 2011 (UTC)
Controversies also need to go there as well. While I was writing my response you wrote more and you saw how I changed it. I bring up Carrel not as a "two wrongs" argument but rather as an illuminating example. Both Shaw and Carrel are Nobel Laureates, both intellectuals, compassionate, and well-intentioned--that, to me, is what makes them significant in studying eugenics. The discussion in the Carrel article is about removing the reference, while I am suggesting its inclusion in Shaw. I don't think it should be removed from Carrel, and I hope you appreciate the way in which I changed its mention in the opening of the Shaw article. Kris (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 15:22, 3 October 2011 (UTC).
Yes, I agree that the re-write is better. --Old Moonraker (talk) 15:31, 3 October 2011 (UTC)
I further clarified it by changing "of the times" to "before World War II." After WWII everyone realized the problem with eugenics.--Kris (talk) 16:32, 3 October 2011 (UTC)
I see that three editors have, independently, now reverted this.--Old Moonraker (talk) 06:51, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
There is a grain of truth in all this, I don't think we can get away from this. But exactly what that grain might consist of is something else again. The common, crude idea of eugenics was that the poor "breed like flies" - and that this makes the next generation inferior. Shaw was by no means convinced that the rich were necessarily "worthy" and the poor inferior - he knew (as many of us do) too many rich parasites and too many "worthy" poor people to accept that. A lot of his sarcasm against eugenicists was making this point - asking them to justify their own existence before they went questioning that of others. On the other hand he did, I think, accept the eugenicists' basic idea that the human race would be improved if people with better genes got to have more children. He had some very interesting ideas about how people with better genes might get togther (among other things he was in favour of miscegenation and people marrying "outside their own station". BUT we very quickly get onto very doubtful and very speculative ground here, even if we could find good sources (a lot of the sources usually quoted are from the "conservative" side of politics, and are aiming less to find out what Shaw really thought, and more to discredit what they see as his left wing views. On the whole this is NOT especially notable, really, unless it helps us appreciate his work better. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 08:00, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
What, then, would be a common, acceptable "definition" of eugenics? I agree that it can be used as an emotionally charged word but as one studies the pervasiveness of eugenics in the pre-WWII era of the 20th C promoted by many, many GOOD people at that time. I am trying to convey this sensitivity because Shaw is an important example of this. I think so long as we try to convince ourselves that important people were not eugenicists then we will not understand this important movement. Shaw is mentions throughout Chesterton's "The Evils of Eugenics." When contemporaries identify Shaw with eugenics, and Chesterton was not the sort to slap labels onto people for political expediency, then we cannot somehow convince ourselves that this was not true because we don't want to associate Shaw with what eugenics became.
The opening needs to have controversies as well as accomplishments. This is probably the most important controversy that brings people to this article. We should not let that decision be altered because we don't like the political leanings of those who are looking for this information. I have tried to do so in a context that better illuminates what was going on at this time in history with sensitivity (Old Moonraker seemed to think it was a decent rendering) and so I will restore it.--Kris (talk) 12:25, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Slight misquote there: I thought it was an improvement on the previous, but I still don't think it should be there. It gives undue weight to the topic and doesn't meet the WP:MOSBIO guidelines. A WP:3RR reminder to contributor's talk page. --Old Moonraker (talk) 13:03, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

Let me clarify--I felt you agreed it was better with context, though I apologize if I implied that you wholly approved. It appears I am mistaken that you at least acknowledge the arguments for putting it somewhere, somehow, in the lead (lede).
The WP:LEDE article emphasizes including any prominent controversies. People who remove the eugenics reference from the lede are not following the Wiki guidelines. It is a major heading in the article, it is a reason that draws people to the article, and major sources contemporary to Shaw associate him with the movement, as does the actual section in the article. Any superficial look at history will reveal the importance of the eugenics movement in general. This is a biography so Soundofmusicals is incorrect in stating that we only include information that helps us understand "his works" as we need to understand his life.
Soundofmusical did not give a response to my discussion and just removed my work, yet Old Moonraker is accusing me of edit warring. Note my edit does remove or change other people's work, only the proper addition of a controversy to the lede. Consider this in the spirit of Wikipedia to be as broad-thinking as possible in that even though you may feel this has undue weight, others not motivated by politics may actually think this important. While Chesterton may be considered from the "conservative" spectrum, I am sure people writing here know that he and Shaw were good friends and he well knew Shaw's thoughts (he even wrote a literary criticism on Shaw in 1912.) So this implication that Shaw's historical ties to eugenics is something made up by Shaw's political enemies is outright false, and so we cannot exclude these facts without altering history. --Kris (talk) 16:40, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
I've just had a look at the "Eugenics" section itself: it's not wonderful. User:Catha2008 seems to have a very good knowledge of the topic and well appreciates the historical nuances. Is there any chance that he/she would apply this grasp to improvements there? A fresh eye with a balanced overview would be welcome.--Old Moonraker (talk) 17:45, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
When I get a chance to undertake it I will be sure to post it here first for people to comment.-- (talk) 22:12, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
You could try it in your sandbox and invite us round when it's done. Clicking the link will create the page. --Old Moonraker (talk) 07:52, 6 October 2011 (UTC)

"Black Girl"[edit]

The synopsis of this "tale" gives the (quite incorrect) impression that the Black Girl herself is treated condecendingly, specifically that she is "misguidedly" searching for a god in the form of a human being. In fact the story is very clearly an allegory - the "Girl" is an unusually intelligent person of great force of character; her "travels" are metaphorical expressions of her intellectual assessments of differing views of God. I have added nothing to the synopsis, it (rightly) needs to be short, and I don't want to substitute my POV for the original editor's here, but I have cut the (to me) offending words. Anyone who thinks I'm wrong - read the "story" (it is really an agnostic tract rather than a short story) and see what you think. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 21:17, 14 November 2010 (UTC)

Missing from Man and Superman[edit]

A recent edit has pointed out that the play contains no references to lethal gas. This is true. Why, though, would it do so in this comedy of a reverse Don Juan? I suggest that this statement is superfluous and propose a revert. --Old Moonraker (talk) 09:33, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

The Revolutionist's Handbook is by far the most detailed discussion Shaw ever penned on the subject of eugenics. The content of this section comes from out of context and difficult to pin down quotes. The quote given of Shaw's speech for the Eugenic's society, for example, is actually related by a newspaper. The author we link here only cites, impartially, the newspaper account. And yet these people say that this is proof that Shaw thought such and such about eugenics. Surely his extremely detailed work of art on the subject is relevant, since Shaw was an artist? If Shaw DID propose gas, presumably he'd have his revolutionary character voice this opinion. This entire section is only here because some people are trying to advocate for a certain political ideology. If you want to see what happens when they get their way, look at I personally think it's invalid to even frame this subject in this way on wikipedia. You disagree and insist that this section stays. So these people have successfully set the agenda. They shouldn't get to be secret about their actual beliefs if they get to set the agenda. Clotten (talk) 19:42, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the reply. "Presumably he'd have his revolutionary character voice this opinion": this reasoning isn't evident from the text. It either needs to be explained (and that would need a WP:RS who has made the point, to avoid WP:NOR) or it should go. --Old Moonraker (talk) 21:21, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
OK, no dissenters from my last: implementing. --Old Moonraker (talk) 20:19, 10 April 2011 (UTC)

Glamorous life[edit]

OF COURSE the reference to "Shaw" from the song (from A little night music) refers to GBS. The reference to "dialogue" clinches it, but since he is by far the most famous person called Shaw that anyone could think of there is a very good chance indeed that ANY reference to the name anywhere refers to him. Like Shakespeare, or Beethoven. references to the surname alone so obviously refer to a certain person that it becomes necessary to prefix any reference to another person of the same name with their initials or given names - just to make the distinction. The trouble is that piling up every casual reference to Shaw in songs and things (if we seriously started to list them) would rapidy get to ridiculous lengths. Put it another way - a discussion of Roll over Beethoven may well be aposite in an article on Chuck Berry - but probably NOT in an article on Beethoven himself. In a detailed discussion of the Sondheim song, the reference to Shaw would be far more notable than the other way round. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 21:51, 7 July 2011 (UTC)

I withdraw my point that this needs a WP:RS, totally persuaded by the argument from User:Soundofmusicals, above. His/her comments about notability are a much more effective argument for deleting the material. --Old Moonraker (talk) 09:19, 8 July 2011 (UTC)

The Millionairess[edit]

Hi! I was just wondering if there are any Shaw fans out there with a book or two on him who could create a stub page for his play The Millionairess? It obviously wasn't one of his major works, but Katharine Hepburn starred in a production of it on the West End and Broadway in 1952 (the reason I'd like there to be a page on it, because I'm working on her article and this is related), and a movie version of it was made in 1960 with Sophia Loren and Peter Sellers, so it surely meets notability criteria. I don't mind making it myself but it would be very scarce because I don't have any books on Shaw to get information from. --Lobo512 (talk) 15:14, 27 November 2011 (UTC)

Right, I've just made a stub article for this. One of my Hepburn books gave a decent amount of background detail, so I just went with that. If anyone can add to it, please do. --Lobo (talk) 14:27, 15 February 2012 (UTC)


Was knighted. Ireland was part of the UK, United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland back when he was born & the majority of his life. He was therefore a UK citizen by birth. His acceptance of the Knighthood would therefore indicate that he was happy with such a situation and had no issue with being referred to in such a way. (talk) 20:22, 3 August 2012 (UTC)

He refused the knighthood. RashersTierney (talk) 21:51, 3 August 2012 (UTC)

Common sense[edit]

Since when is common sense unencyclopedic? Pointing out the obvious does not need citing - but we often do it. Just look at the articles for the days of the week for instance! --Soundofmusicals (talk) 09:34, 3 October 2012 (UTC)

This is my principal gripe with Wikipedia. If something is "obvious", then why not say so? The catch, of course, is that what is obvious to one person might seem like an interpretation -- in Wikipedia terms, Original Research -- to another. WilliamSommerwerck (talk) 14:45, 3 February 2013 (UTC)
The original comment was in response to someone wanting to delete a comment on the grounds that it was "common sense" and therefore unencyclopedic. Of course if something really IS common sense or otherwise is another, highly relevant point - but deleteing stuff just BECAUSE it is common sense?? --Soundofmusicals (talk) 19:54, 3 February 2013 (UTC)

Shaw's Views of Shakespeare[edit]

It's nice to read that Shaw eventually changed his mind about Brahms. I recently read that Shaw hated Shakespeare's plays. If this is true, shouldn't it be included in the article? WilliamSommerwerck (talk) 14:49, 3 February 2013 (UTC)

What Shaw DID hate was the practice (common in his time) of drastically cutting, bowdlerising, and otherwise tampering with Shakespearean texts in so called "acting editions". It is largely due to Shaw's influence as a drama critic that Shakespeare is nowadays normally produced (more or less) uncut. Incidentally, this IS covered in the article, under "Criticism". If he had "hated Shakespeare's plays", do you really think he would have been so passionate about having them staged properly? Go figure. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 20:14, 3 February 2013 (UTC)

Saint Joan[edit]

Could someone with access to Holyroyd determine more exactly what Joan was sculpted?

Please hyperlink Saint Joan to the correct article. (talk) 23:42, 15 May 2013 (UTC)

Done- Camyoung54 talk 00:58, 16 May 2013 (UTC)

Correspondence and friends[edit]

Is it possible to include detail of his long friendship with his neighbour Apsley Cherry-Garrard? His support and encouragement gave much to the success of 'The Worst Journey in the World'.

Limhey (talk) 22:45, 26 May 2013 (UTC)

Creative [R]evolution?[edit]

This quotation (from both Time and the New York Times) appears to be a transmission error. The contemporary NYT correction is paywalled, but is cited here. The doctrine of Creative Evolution is a major theme in Shaw's work, notably Back to Methuselah but also other plays going back as early as Man and Superman, so the emendation makes enormously more sense than the typo. Due to the inaccessibility of the correction, I'm not sure what the correct thing to do is here, so I leave it to an actual Wikipedian to fix the article text, but it certainly shouldn't stand as written now. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:46, 11 June 2013 (UTC)

It has to be said that "Creative Evolution" is witty, makes sense, and fits the context - while "Creative Revolution" is plain cryptic, and on the face of it rather silly, especially in the context. Of course with Shaw you can never be sure. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 00:08, 9 December 2013 (UTC)

Shaw's "Jewish question"[edit]

There have been a couple of attempts to completely alter the POV of this article - in my edit summary I have asked the person concerned to bring any suggestions as to how (in their opinion) the article can be made more NPOV to this page. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 23:31, 27 June 2013 (UTC)

(Note: Soundofmusic is referring to this.)
"We ought to tackle the Jewish question by admitting the right of States to make eugenic experiments by weeding out any strains that they think undesirable..."
There's no way to really mince the meaning of his 1938 correspondence with Webb (though Griffith -- see next sentence -- struggles valiantly and absurdly). Aside from the ref in my reverted edit, that quote is also sourced in Socialism and Superior Brains: The Political Thought of George Bernard Shaw, by Gareth Griffith, p119-120.--Froglich (talk) 01:30, 28 June 2013 (UTC)
Not all books or articles about Shaw are dispassionate (or accurate) - understatement of the century. Do have a search of the archives here, we have covered all this ground repeatedly. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 02:52, 28 June 2013 (UTC)
Incidentally, I had intended to stay out of this, but I have actually read the full passage from which you so selectively quote (from the top of page 120 of Socialism and Superior Brains). The "eugenic experiments" Shaw refers to obviously fall far short of Nazi-style racial extermination. In fact even the expulsion and confiscation policies that preceded the holocaust are mentioned (and excluded as far too harsh!). One indeed wonders exactly what Shaw meant by an "eugenic experiment" in this context, but the idea that Griffith's treatment of the subject (which includes this among several other quotations) is "absurd" reeks of POV - in fact if it is that absurd why quote it? At best something like this is your opinion. If you can sway us with something more than a selective one-liner and establish a new consensus, then all very well. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 03:51, 28 June 2013 (UTC)
1) I couldn't care less whether "not all books" are accurate (a red-herring argument); what matters to me is whether or not you're maintaining the sources I referenced in this particular context (e.g., the letter to Webb) are inaccurate. Rather than sending me on a snipe-hunt, just say so and link your source if that's your contention. Assuming otherwise for the time being....
2) Shaw is pondering "the Jewish question" and uttering declaratives regarding the "rights" of governments to "wee(d) out...undesirables" in 1938. -- I find it impossible to assume that Shaw was cluelessly unaware of the Nazis spewing "useless bread gobbler" propaganda for a decade. I also find it impossible to assume that Webb was unable to parse this rather easily deciphered syntax in order to realize what Shaw was alluding to.
3) "The "eugenic experiments" Shaw refers to obviously fall far short of Nazi-style racial extermination." -- Well, of course not. Wording it that way makes it a hard sell; and, as Shaw's letter to Webb attests, appearances are important. But like many socialists prior to Operation Barbarossa, Shaw's enthusiastic pre-War support of Hitler was unequivocal. Here he is in 1935 mouthing Nazi propaganda, the same year German Jews were stripped of citizenship. And extermination by race is a canard, since extermination by class was the actual goal.--Froglich (talk) 05:29, 28 June 2013 (UTC)
I have stayed out of this debate until now, as I do not have the necessary expertise to know exactly what Shaw meant on the matters at hand, and how his opinions might have changed over the years. However, even when disregarding the factual element, the latest additions need some serious revision if they are to be of an encyclopædic nature. The sentence "Shaw would publicly expound desires for "humane" extermination into the late 1930s" is supported by a reference to an article from 1933, and should have to be revised. Furthermore, I think the reference to Eichmann is irrelevant, as they do not show any causal connection between the two, and that the reason why "humane" is repeated multiple times in quotation marks can only be found when looking through the footnotes. This should somehow be made more lucid.
This is nitpicking; the final quip is more problematic. The claim that his supporters would confuse or downplay his statements refer to two sources that I cannot see to have been written by overt supporters of his; rather, they seem to be books on the history of the eugenics movement. Note in particular the wording in Searle 1972 (p.92-93): "Shaw probably did not expect his audience to take everything he said literally; yet this was widely felt to be a joke in the worst possible taste, and orthodox eugenicists, not the quickest of people to appreciate even a good joke, were emphatically n o t amused." This refers to a reception contemporary to Shaw's statement, and although no sources are given, one would need better reasons to write it off as entirely as is done in the new revision. Why do you believe that these books were written by supporters of Shaw, when he seems to play a minor role in their works?
All things considered, I, admittedly a non-specialist, am not convinced that the new perspective is the more correct one. I think the prudent course would be to restore the end of the eugenics section, and remove the new "the Jewish question" section, as it appears to be little more than a quote (whose actual meaning – as previous examples show – is disputed). Sirion123 (talk) 13:25, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
It's a horrible dog's dinner at best - there are just so many issues that I'm afraid we can't accept it. I've had a look at the references given by Froglich, and these are either very suss or directly contradict the stance he wishes us to take. "The Jewish question" in particular is most inappropriate - being based on one sentence (taken out of context) out of a paragraph (for which we have no context!) out of a private letter of Shaw's to a friend, cited in a book (a reliable source, no less) that takes a stance directly the opposite of Froglich's - in fact if anything one more defensive of Shaw than we are here! I am reverting to the version existing before this started. Assuming this is not just simply what Australians call a "stir" - it needs a proper dispute resolution process. Wikipedia cannot be allowed to be infiltrated with Conservapedia type nonsense, or anything else driven by ideology, for that matter. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 15:18, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
Thank you, Sir, you said pretty much everything I thought, but felt too inexperienced to utter myself. For what it is worth, here is a video with legendary Shavian writer Eric Bentley, where he comes with a quote that could be useful in the future, if claims regarding the aforementioned quote should return:
"Britain should have declared war on Hitler the moment he stole Einstein's violin." (23:20)
This is a very open and honest view of Shaw's views, which in no way tries to make him a saint, but this directly contradicts Froglich's claims regarding the meaning of the quote in question, or, if one is to be very reluctant, to show that one can't unanimously accept it as Shaw's view, without reservations. Sirion123 (talk) 16:19, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
I challenge all of you to formulate a credible alternative explanation to "We ought to tackle the Jewish question by admitting the right of States to make eugenic experiments by weeding out any strains that they think undesirable, but insisting that they do it as humanely as they can afford to, and not to shock civilisation by such misdemeanours as the expulsion and robbery of Albert Einstein." than the one which is immediately obvious to the reader (either layman, or historian privy to the cozy relationship between Naziism and the antisemitic Fabians during the pre-WWII era). Seriously try and cook up any context you can fathom in which that passage doesn't immediately confer the mental imagery of a deranged coot attempting to justify state-orchestrated mass murder while under the assumption that said undertakings could even be carried out with the discrimination he proposes. This extended version of the quotation is actually more damning, as it reveals his preoccupation with appearances; i.e., "How do we murder a class of people, after weeding out the one or two Einsteins, without looking like monsters?" (the answer being, in his warped mind, that the state would appear more civil if it executed them "humanely").
I submit to you that there is no actual "confusion" over what those words meant then to Beatrice Webb, or mean today. The only people using "the Jewish question" phraseology during the mid and late 1930s were the Nazis and their supporters, of which we know without question that Shaw was one during that time-frame. It was not accidental that Eichmann made the alleged "humane" nature of Xyklon part of his defense, because it was straight out of the collaborative Eugenicist/Fabian/Nazi propaganda playbook for justifying the mass slaughter of undesireable.
If eighty years is still too early to finally drag this man's skeleton out of the closet, may I ask exactly when it will be? Are we waiting for the last Holocaust survivor to finally croak? Also in that vein, regarding Soundofmusicals' insulting accusation that I am kiting Conservapedia (which I neither read nor contribute to as they are bastion of Creationist imbecility), don't you think it that Wikipedia feature a more complete article than the one which I am assuming exists there (per Soundofmusicals) if it does not shirk from this unsavory aspect of Shaw's career)? What are we to take from the incongruity of the Mel Gibson article being all over his drunken antisemitic slurs, but not bringing itself to address the same in a deceased icon who actually recorded propaganda videos for Hitler seventy years before Youtube?--Froglich (talk) 01:51, 8 July 2013 (UTC)
Shaw had some strange ideas (which we most definitely do not shy away from in this article) - but to interpret what he said in 1935 (or even 1938) in the context of the holocaust, which didn't begin until 1942, and wasn't known in the west until 1946 (at least by the general public, although there seems to be evidence that the Allied leadership were pretty much aware of what was going on from the beginning) is not just wrong, and partisan, it's positively hysterical. To blame Shaw for Eichmann's use of the word "humane", or equate his ironical use of the phrase "Jewish Question" with Hitler's is at least as bad as deifying the man would be. To call anything he ever said "propaganda for Hitler" (or anyone else) is laughable - whatever might be said about Shaw he was always utterly independent in what he said and thought (too much so, perhaps, since not all he said was well informed, or even properly thought through). Shaw was deeply disturbed by Hitler's (late thirties) persecution of the Jews, at the very least in so far as it extended to people like Albert Einstein (although I would have thought better of him had it applied just as much to someone more lowly), and this was well before the stage where they were actually being mass-murdered. His pointing out that Germany had been "sat on" after WWI and that this was largely the cause of that country turning to a leader like Hitler is incidentally one of his political views that would now be agreed to by most people! The current attack on Shaw the man (not yours personally, Froggie, but the one running in places like Conservapedia, glad you're not a subscriber to that one by the way) is very much right wing, and driven by a thoroughly nasty (if not Nazi) agenda. We're not extreme Shavians, and we don't think for one moment he was always infallibly right, especially in his political judgements, but the point can be made, and already is, without resort to hysteria. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 05:55, 8 July 2013 (UTC)
Shaw was a virulent anti-Semite (as most of the Fabians were) and a fervent admirer of Mein Kampf (supporting it as late as 1944), his "propaganda for Hitler" is readily accessible via Youtube, and it beggars the imagination that Shaw would not be referring to mass-murder of Jews with the phrase "weeding out undesirables" given that extermination is an openly-stated goal of eugenicists. The Holocaust was its logical end. (Regarding the "'sat upon' Germany" thesis, it is staple grist of a phalanx of disreputable revisionists.--Froglich (talk) 15:16, 27 August 2013 (UTC)
A virulent anti-Semite? Off-hand I know he had a very warm relationship with Harriet Cohen. And what was he doing, speaking up for Albert Einstein? Alfietucker (talk) 15:57, 27 August 2013 (UTC)
I shall ask again....
"We ought to tackle the Jewish question by admitting the right of States to make eugenic experiments by weeding out any strains that they think undesirable..."
...what do you honestly think it means? - There should be zero doubt in anyone's mind what it means, because he wrote it at the exact same time he was making filmed statements stumping Hitler's propaganda. (And so what if Shaw liked Cohen in public while writing that letter to his Fabian eugenicist confidant? It's not a counter-argument, because his missive to Webb is unarguably blatant. Sociopaths engage in this kind of oblivious hypocrisy ubiquitously. E.g., "Some of my best friends are...", etc.) In any event, the quotation is documented to a notable source, and is relevant (if not crucially so) to an understanding of Shaw's fascination with eugenics.--Froglich (talk) 19:48, 27 August 2013 (UTC)
Like I said, I was presenting 'off-hand' evidence. I have now taken your point seriously enough to look more carefully into the question of Shaw and his alleged anti-Semitism. While I think Shaw and his attitudes towards/beliefs about the Jews is a legitimate subject, I really suggest that George Watson's book The Lost Literature of Socialism from which you take this quote is far too tendentious to be relied upon as a single source (Watson's agenda is, apparently, to rubbish all brands of Marxist and post-Marxist socialism by claiming it was hand-in-glove with the Nazis, which is patent nonsense). FWIW, I strongly suggest looking at other sources (which also include that quote) such as Bryan Cheyette's Constructions of 'the Jew' in English Literature and Society: Racial Representations, 1875-1945 (Cambridge University Press), and see whether you might find further context, evidence and above all a good body of reliable citations to support a section "Shaw's 'Jewish question'". Alfietucker (talk) 22:22, 27 August 2013 (UTC)
Froglich: I found you reinstated and augmented the text which had been previously removed by another editor. I looked through it carefully and, in all consciousness, felt that it really can't remain as it was. Not only was your text, given its controversial nature, flimsily supported with citations, but you also flagrantly breached WP:NPOV by editing comments by other cited authors who contradict the thesis you wish to promote. For instance: you added the contentious claim by Jean Francois Revel that "Shaw, concerned with finding an efficient way to purge the enemies of socialism [...] urged chemists to devise a 'humane' gas that would cause an 'instantaneous and painless' death". You add this without comment, yet delete quotations by several other scholars who give an alternative view of Shaw's support of eugenics - certainly contrary to Revel's - or even selectively edit comments such as Stuart Baker's (removing "he maintained, first, that better breeding was essential and, second, that only the Life Force could be trusted to select the pairs"). By doing this, you're laying yourself open to the accusation of POV-pushing. I would ask you to please take these points on board, and realize that even if you disagree with the citations provided by other editors the way forward is not to either delete them or edit them to fit your thesis; rather, acknowledge them, and refute them with alternative and credibly cited evidence if you can. Alfietucker (talk) 22:55, 27 August 2013 (UTC)
Considering that it took you only 24 seconds to "roll back" [24 *minutes* actually, by your reckoning; actually - to be fair - it was 15 minutes after I'd finished posting on 'Talk', but still... Alfietucker], I find it difficult to believe that you've "looked through it carefully". You chastise me in edit commentary to "see Talk"--as if I were not already here. You nuked an expanded quotation, with reference, of Shaw's 1910 speech. You nuked the Jewish question section, containing a sourced quotation, because you apparently do not care for what Jean Francois Revel has to say about it (never-minding obvious notability regardless of subjective preference). Regards the contrasting "not serious" meme promulgated by the many sources you apparent dearly miss: yes, I did toast some of them (if only for redundancy's sake, as similar referenced verbiage remains in the Eugenics section) - but what is an editor to boldly do when an authoritative source (Revel) overturns earlier assessments. Hey, if you feel a need for four or five linked sources soft-gloving Shaw, go ahead and stick 'em back in. I promise not to revert so long as the expanded 1910 quote and the "Jewish question" missive to Webb remain.
After 103 years, it's time to stop white-washing the man's quarter-century-long advocacy of "lethal chambers", and stopping fooling ourselves by pretending he wasn't serious and was just joking. Even if you do like his plays. The newspapers of 1910 were aghast (ref. Stone), as we also should be.--Froglich (talk) 00:51, 28 August 2013 (UTC)
Dear Froggie. I really don't think you're a fool, and I am prepared to accept your claim not to endorse the kind of far-right anti-intellectual nonsense driving the extreme "anti-shavian" movement. I shy from attributing humorous or satirical motives to you (you're NOT just having us on, are you?) On the other hand - I find it very hard indeed to believe that you have, as yet, read any of the arguments of anyone else (even me) on this thread. I wish you would. If you can't be bothered - then please read what follows, which is pretty much what we have said before, but may hit the mark a bit better. Some of Shaw's remarks about eugenics ARE quite plainly ironical, and this is pointed out by many writers, including some that are not particularly shavian in their inclinations. In fact, as I have pointed out, and as someone else has also noticed, you do not even read properly some of the people you cite, or you would realise this. On the other hand Shaw DID say some rather strange things that are at best harder to dismiss as irony, and which in fact I find it very hard to come up with an "explanation" for. But any explanation I DID come up with would be my opinion, and would have no place in an encyclopedia article. The really "difficult" passages are in fact already there, so people can come to their own conclusions. Isn't this perhaps the best way? Interpreting things said in the thirties, long before the bestial nature of National Socialism was even conceivable by hard headed politicians, much less a naive idealist like Shaw, as if they were made by someone on trial for his life at Nuremberg, ten long years later, is just silly hysteria. But even if this were not the case - it STILL wouldn't belong here. You are completely free to despise Shaw, the extreme shavians are free to deify him, people like me, who find him no end of an ass at times, are free to have mixed feeling about the man. (All of us, I suspect, enjoy those wonderful plays!) But none of these points of view should be pushed here. We need to be neutral. This is already a pretty fair summing up - it is an encyclopedia article, and neither an apology for the man, nor a polemic against him. That's the way it has to stay. Sorry, but there are some articles on Wiki that I would phrase differently, too. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 00:34, 28 August 2013 (UTC)
As you're leading with name-alteration insults, and in the very next clause trot out the tired old smear of "far-right" (applied, brazen in its incredulity, to the revelation rather than concealment of the genocidal aspirations of a Hitler-lover, as if I were, oh I don't know, analogous to David Irving, a fellow whom I'm sure would find much to admire in your obfuscatory editing sweeping the embarrassing lowlights under the rug), I think it's clear where we stand now. Just answer me one thing: Why do you think that Shaw's letter to Beatrice Webb is unsuitable for Wikipedia?--Froglich (talk) 01:09, 28 August 2013 (UTC)
My point precisely. Hysterical nonsense has no place in an encyclopedia article. Getting even more hysterical only proves the point. The "Jewish Question" didn't always mean killing them all, you know - for a long time it was actually a pretty neutral concept, and simply meant the problems Jews and Gentiles had with each other. A "solution to the Jewish question" might once have meant "getting rid of prejudice on both sides, and accepting one another better". At least as likely as "kill them all" in fact. This is in fact why Hitler used it in the first place - like the grotesque Nazi misuse of the word "humane". I could well say that Shaw "obviously" meant the phrase in a "nice" sense, and this would be MUCH more defensible than the stupid idea that the old fellow was referring to a Hitlerian mass murder. BUT this wouldn't belong in the article either, because it would be personal opinion. Which doesn't belong in an encyclopedia article. To repeat what I said just a moment or two ago - you are as entitled to your opinion as anyone else, as are the real Shaw lovers, and as are people like me who feel he was a great writer but a bit of a silly ass at times (although, who isn't?) None of us can (or should be able to) push our own opinion, especially in a "history-re-writing" way. Nothing is concealed here - we just don't hammer a heavy POV. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 02:07, 28 August 2013 (UTC)
But what I asked you was, "Why do you think that Shaw's letter to Beatrice Webb is unsuitable for Wikipedia?" Do you have an answer?--Froglich (talk) 02:23, 28 August 2013 (UTC)
Not the quote being unsuitable - but the hysterical (and, what's even worse, thoroughly silly) personal interpretation of what Shaw meant that you put in with it. I defy you to come up with an explanation of what he meant that makes sense. Personally I tend to the conclusion that he was being rather silly, although there is a very good case indeed that he didn't mean quite what Hitler did. But as I said - that is just as much personal opinion as what you have to say. I think that if we are going to have the quote at all - we need a full explanation of what Gareth Griffith, who raises the quote in the first place, felt about it. He doesn't agree with your interpretation at all, did he? But then we don't want apologia here any more than we want polemic, do we? --Soundofmusicals (talk) 03:12, 28 August 2013 (UTC)
Thank you providing a perfect example of tendentious editing.--Froglich (talk) 03:47, 28 August 2013 (UTC)
Citing someone who argues in exactly the opposite direction as yourself, castigating his arguments as absurd, and then calling that a "reference" seems pretty tendentious to me. I suppose it takes one to know one (or, as in this case, it takes one to acuse someone else who isn't one). It's "just me" talking at the moment - but virtually everyone else who has had a look at this argument thinks about the same thing about your association of Hitler and Shaw. Hitler didn't write any plays (at least not that I ever heard of). Shaw never murdered anyone, nor did he have anything to do with the rise of Nazi Germany. His responsibility for Word War II and the Holocaust is as well known as it is nonexistent. Please, just consider that at this point you might be wrong. To repeat yet a third time, different people have different opinions. Some consider Shaw a saint. Some (including you) call him a "lowlife". Some consider he was very probably neither. Opinions aren't the point (although we're all entitled to them). Encyclopedia articles (at least good ones) aren't partisan. This may seem boring at times, but... --Soundofmusicals (talk) 04:37, 28 August 2013 (UTC)

Man and Superman & the Eugenics Section[edit]

I know we are all getting tired of this topic, and would like to move on, but I have some potential misgivings with the current section on eugenics, in particular the quote from Man and Superman. It is true that Man and Superman is the first time Shaw dealt with the concept of eugenics and the Superman in his plays. But ought we really to use it as our main quote? It is supposed to have been written by John Tanner, and whilst I concede that I am not sufficiently aware of how the views expressed by Tanner relate in detail to Shaw's, he is a rather flawed personality. I can understand why the quote is attractive – I do not remember Shaw using the now universally understood word "Superman" so freely elsewhere – but would it not be prudent rather to explain his position using material where he only wrote as himself? The section says that Shaw delivered speeches on eugenics in England. Are any of these preserved? I haven't read it, unfortunately, but if eugenics was as important to Shaw as the article on Wikipedia claims, surely he must have written about it in some of his extended political treatises? Sirion123 (talk) 10:22, 31 July 2013 (UTC)

The article itself contains a referenced snippet of his 1910 speech advocating "lethal chambers" (well, the article will contain it until the next editor deletes it, anyway. Between then and his 1938 "Jewish question" letter to Beatrice Webb, Shaw advocated gas extermination for a span of at least 28 years.--Froglich (talk) 22:06, 27 August 2013 (UTC)
The "snippet" you refer to has been there for a while now. In fact so are most of the other quotes you keep harping on. Re-read the article itself, it may prove a little "fairer" than you thought? I am having problems with how often he is supposed to have advocated "gas extermination". By my count, even taking what most sources agree was irony as literal, he is recorded as saying it once, and then 28 years later mentioning the phrase "Jewish Question" (which in itself has nothing whatever to do with gas chambers, and may even be interpreted as being quite benign). A very long bow you're drawing there if you want to say that proves what his thoughts were during the intervening period.--Soundofmusicals (talk) 04:49, 28 August 2013 (UTC)
Froglich, I implore you to keep these discussions away from this thread. It has not been replied to, which is fair enough, but it is even less of a chance anyone will do so if it has been hijacked and the discussions from the thread above drip in here. (I think hijacking is the correct word, as references to lethal chambers, ironic or not, have nothing to do with the quote from Man and Superman) Sirion123 (talk) 06:56, 28 August 2013 (UTC)

Religion section is skewed[edit]

The section about his religious beliefs is sourced almost entirely from an Atheist publication. It seems a rather skewed or distorted view of what he may have actually believed, referencing some other more neutral source(s) would be helpful. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:25, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

I agree. I haven't the time to do it myself, unfortunately, but if someone could be bothered to, the book Bernard Shaw's Remarkable Religion: A Faith That Fits the Facts would probably be a good place to start. It must be taken into account, however, that the author is very supportive of Shaw's views, and that they would probably have to be moderated a little. Sirion123 (talk) 11:33, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

Shaw was a socialist who supported the Nazis[edit]

There needs to be a section that faces up to the fact that Shaw was a left winger who supported the Nazis. Otherwise, Wikipedia has the liberal bas it is accused of having. Why is there no section on that? There is a section on him supporting other left wingers, like Josef Stalin. Why are we shying away from the idea that he supported the Nazis (at least during the beginning of their reign)? Here is a link to a page that document it extensively. It is 11-12 paragraphs down the page. [9] Liberal wikipedia is letting Shaw off the hook because he is a hero to the left wing. I also noticed that there is no "talk" of it here on the "talk" page. This is clearly liberal censorship, as I'm sure someone has mentioned it before. If Glenn Beck were to support the Nazis, even if he let go of his support for them later, there is zero doubt that it would be mentioned in his wikipedia page. Wikipedia has a liberal bias, and I'm sure that what I am saying here will probably be erased soon as well, in the name of freedom of speech no doubt. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:55, 15 March 2014 (UTC)

If you weren't too lazy to READ what IS here (including the article itself AND this very talk page) then you'd have noticed that in neither place do we shy away from or "censor" Shaw's at times inconsistent and, frankly, rather strange political and social views. Or is what you really object to the fact that we talk about them in a sensible way and without any silly left (or right) wing hysteria - as we should, considering that after all we know more than he did about what was going on in Germany and Russia in the 1930s. It's all in the history books now, in his days he had to rely on what they said in the newspapers! He is not here because of his political opinions anyway, but because he is a great writer. That's why (assuming you can get your head around this) the article is mostly about his writings. Just read the article for heaven's sake! Incidentally Hitler was a right-wing nationalist - in Russia Stalin has always been known as a "right-winger" too - as opposed to the left-wingers like Trotsky, who wanted genuine social reform. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 03:08, 13 April 2014 (UTC)

Shaw and "the religion of Muhammad" revisited[edit]

Someone has "re-discovered" this - there is no evidence it is any less a forgery than it was in the 1930s when it first surfaced. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 07:57, 7 July 2015 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just added archive links to one external link on George Bernard Shaw. Please take a moment to review my edit. If necessary, add {{cbignore}} after the link to keep me from modifying it. Alternatively, you can add {{nobots|deny=InternetArchiveBot}} to keep me off the page altogether. I made the following changes:

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N Archived sources still need to be checked

Cheers. —cyberbot IITalk to my owner:Online 06:37, 26 August 2015 (UTC)


I don't believe Irish is acceptable for nationality. I recognise Bernard Shaw was born in Ireland. I'm not raising this to deprive Ireland of Bernard Shaw. Here are the reasons I believe Irish is not appropriate:

  • He was born in Ireland, but it was at the time an integral part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
  • Birthplace does not = nationality, anyway. His birthplace is not a relevant part of his notability. He was notable for his work in England
  • WP:OPENPARA states "In most modern-day cases this will mean the country of which the person is a citizen, national or permanent resident, or if notable mainly for past events, the country where the person was a citizen, national or permanent resident when the person became notable...Similarly, previous nationalities or the country of birth should not be mentioned in the opening sentence unless they are relevant to the subject's notability
  • Suggesting birthplace = nationality would mean John McCain was Panamanian, Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard are British, Peter Hain and Richard Dawkins are Kenyan and Andrew Bonar Law was Canadian. Such a concept is racist.
  • The Nobel Prize Committee lists him as British
  • He was most probably a British citizen (almost certainly, since he was apparently offered a knighthood)
  • He was a Councillor in London. He lived most of his life in England.
  • The Encyclopedia of World Biography describes him as British
  • Bernard Shaw was consistently critical of Irish nationality stating "‘There is no Irish race any more than there is an English race" and described the notion of an Irish/English man as "that hollowest of fictions". Further statements he made "Nationalism must now be added to the refuse pile of superstitions. We are now citizens of the world" and "Nationalism stands between Ireland and the light of the world"
  • The British Museum, with which he was involved, describes him as "Britain's great dramatists"
  • The above evidence, particularly his own views, would mean if he was living, describing him as Irish would be a serious BLP violation.

I think we should discuss whether any alternatives would be more suitable. AusLondonder (talk) 00:02, 12 November 2015 (UTC)

Glad you brought this up here (not before time). Have you read the discussion at the top of the page under "Irish?" - answers to points that came up last time might be helpful. In general, of course he WAS "British" as the term was defined at the time. Under that same definition Tony Abbot and Julia Gillard would also have been classed as British - as would all "native-born" Australians, Canadians and New Zealanders, as well as Scots, Irish and Welsh. Until quite recently "British" was legally "non-mutually exclusive" with many different nationalities. In that sense it was irrelevant where you were born, but a matter of living "under the British flag". Old-fashioned and irrelevant in the case of Abbot and Gillard, perhaps - but then Shaw was born when the British Empire was very real, and "British" did have that connotation. It's just not that simple, really. On the whole I'd like to go with precedent, and keeping things consistent. And above all, sticking with a past consensus - at least until there is a clear new consensus to the contrary. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 01:40, 12 November 2015 (UTC)
That is not really true. George Bernard Shaw was not born in the Empire. Ireland was not part of the Empire. It was an integral part of the United Kingdom. In addition, Abbott and Gillard were born in England and Wales, respectively, not the Empire. Also, you unfortunately have not addressed the above points that I have made. AusLondonder (talk) 02:19, 12 November 2015 (UTC)
If the United kingdom and its "component countries" were not part of the Empire then what the stuff were they? The very core of the Empire by any definition I've ever seen. I am actually trying not to repeat what I and others said in the "Irish" thread until we get a proper debate going- I am waiting for a few other editors to chime in - they will, I suspect, very soon. I may even run a little circular past some folk who might be interested. Consensus, which we need to change the article, cannot be changed by just you and me, for obvious reasons. Add colons to indent your contributions by the way. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 05:39, 12 November 2015 (UTC)
Shaw described himself as Irish. "I am an Irishman and I have not forgotten". (Holroyd, p. 468) and in 1935 he registered as a citizen of the Irish Free State. He must therefore be regarded as Irish. On the other hand he was also a citizen of the United Kingdom of Great and Britain and Ireland, and so can also be described as "British" in terms of citizenship (not technically correct – "UK citizen" would be more accurate, but a bit wordy and "British" is clear enough). I think the agreed earlier version "Irish-British" covered the ground reasonably satisfactorily. But let us not operate in a vacuum. How do other works of reference introduce him?
  • Britannica has him as "George Bernard Shaw (Irish dramatist and critic)";
  • the ODNB as a matter of policy for all its biographees dodges the matter of nationality and just gives place of birth;
  • The Chambers Biographical Dictionary, a much-used standby, has him as "Shaw, George Bernard 1856-1950, Irish dramatist and critic and Nobel Prize winner";
  • of the Oxford Reference Shelf available online those that mention his nationality at all include
    • "Shaw, George Bernard (1856–1950) Irish novelist, playwright, journalist, cultural critic, political theorist, pundit, and public personality" (The Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance);
    • "Shaw, George Bernard (1856–1950) Irish dramatist, critic", (Oxford World Encyclopedia);
    • "Shaw, (George) Bernard (b Dublin, 26 July 1856; d Ayot St Lawrence, Herts., 2 Nov. 1950). Irish dramatist and music critic" (Oxford Companion to Music) ; and
    • "Shaw George Bernard ( 1856–1950), Irish playwright and critic" (Oxford Companion to Shakespeare).
Some other Oxford reference books follow the ODNB line and avoid the matter altogether. I can find none that refer to him as British. "Irish" seems to be the preferred description – his own choice and that of those books that choose to mention the matter at all. – Tim riley talk 10:38, 12 November 2015 (UTC)
Shaw considered himself Irish: "Eternal is the fact that the human creature born in Ireland and brought up in its air is Irish. I have lived for twenty years in Ireland and for seventy-two in England; but the twenty came first, and in Britain I am still a foreigner and shall die one." quoted in Ireland in Mind, Alice Leccese Powers, ed. (2000) Hohenloh + 15:12, 12 November 2015 (UTC)
I think it is fair to say he made a number of seemingly contradictory statements about nationality. I would support Irish/British. AusLondonder (talk) 01:14, 13 November 2015 (UTC)
As the article mentions, Shaw only accepted the Nobel prize (he rejected all other honours bar the Oscar) because his wife pointed out it would be honouring Ireland. Straw Cat (talk) 01:54, 13 November 2015 (UTC)

Debate on Bernard Shaw's nationality.[edit]

Was he "Irish" or "British" or do we need to define his nationality in some other way? A debate on the subject, to reconsider a long-standing consensus that he was Irish, has started at talk:George Bernard Shaw. Just in case you're interested. Current comments are at "Nationality", at the foot of the page - although an earlier thread at "Irish"? may also be relevant. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 06:14, 12 November 2015 (UTC)

This is an interesting question. The earlier thread is most certainly relevant. The current page says "Irish / British" under nationality in the infobox. Need it be restricted to one? - Paul2520 (talk) 06:58, 12 November 2015 (UTC)
Added as British, this claim he was not an Irish national, as accurate as any POV. In the days of Shaw being Irish and British were not mutually exclusive. There is an essay on UK nationalities, but it is a mere essay. The stem is modern usage of nationality and citizenship do not translate well from history. While we can discuss the ins-and-outs, it is sourced in the lede as Irish. Murry1975 (talk) 15:31, 12 November 2015 (UTC)
Update!!! The source doesnt lead to a cite supporting the claim. Murry1975 (talk) 15:35, 12 November 2015 (UTC)
Yeah that source was for British, but someone changed to Irish and didn't remove the British source. AusLondonder (talk) 01:15, 13 November 2015 (UTC)
That's a shrewd point about applying modern labels to historical figures. In terms of citizenship Beethoven was not German nor Michelangelo Italian,there being no nation-states of Germany or Italy in their lifetimes, but they are always, rightly, labelled German and Italian respectively. The case of Shaw is complicated by 20th-century developments: a UK citizen all his life, an Irish citizen from 1935 until his death, and a self-proclaimed Irishman all his life. On balance I think it would be best to describe him in the lead and the info-box as Irish tout court. Further research into how other works of reference label him produces the following:
  • Shaw, George Bernard, 1856–1950, Irish playwright and critic (The Hutchinson Encyclopedia)
  • Shaw, George Bernard (1856–1950), Irish-born playwright, critic and polemicist (Cambridge Guide to Theatre)
  • Shaw, George Bernard (1856–1950), Irish dramatist, critic, and man of letters, born in Dublin (The Macmillan Encyclopedia)
  • Shaw, George Bernard (1856–1950), Irish dramatist and critic (Bloomsbury Biographical Dictionary of Quotations)
  • Shaw, George Bernard (1856–1950), Irish dramatist, critic, and member of the Fabian Society (Philip's Encyclopedia)
  • Shaw, George Bernard (1856–1950), Irish dramatist, critic and social reformer (Palgrave Macmillan Dictionary of Political Thought)
  • Shaw, George Bernard (1856–1950), Irish dramatist and critic (Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language)
  • Shaw, George Bernard (1856–1950), Irish dramatist (Oxford Dictionary of Quotations)
About the same number of reference works do not introduce him by nationality; none that I can find introduce him as "British". I think we should follow the lead of all these reference books, and those listed in the previous section, above, and mention Shaw as Irish in the lead and the I-B. – Tim riley talk 12:03, 13 November 2015 (UTC)
I think Tim's well worded judgement here should form the basis for our consensus. The clincher is really is that list of "other reference works". Wikipedia is not in the business of being "odd man out" (limiting although that sometimes may be). --Soundofmusicals (talk) 00:20, 14 November 2015 (UTC)

GA Reassessment[edit]

This discussion is transcluded from Talk:George Bernard Shaw/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the reassessment.

Clearly fails GA immediate failure criterion 3: paragraph after paragraph without citations. Some now tagged. More need tagging. Tim riley talk 15:51, 13 November 2015 (UTC)

Very probably IS "under referenced" for GA - but tags will not necessarily of themselves solve the problem and should (here as everywhere) be used with discretion (please!) Tags asking for references on plotline "facts" for instance are pernicious: surely that something "happens" in a play or novel might be assumed to be verifiable from the text of the play (novel, whatever) itself? A plethora of "Grass is green" (or "Paris is the capital of France") references do not necessarily a good article make either - nor is asking for them frightfully constructive: don't ask people to supply references for common sense or patently easily verifiable matter. With those reservations agree with Tim - certainly not saying every citation tag in this article needs deleting (although some do) or that there is necessarily no need for any new ones (strongly suspect there is, although, as always, the better course is to hop in and hunt one up one's self).
But what I am even more concerned about are phrases (sentences, even whole paragraphs) that reek of being lifted straight from (possibly perfectly reliable) sources without acknowledgement. Nothing wrong with reporting others' opinions, but we must in this case name the source and if convenient quote their exact words. Before being considered a GA the article needs someone with the time and resources to do some detective work on this aspect. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 23:56, 13 November 2015 (UTC)
Shaw deserves better than a GA, and there are plans afoot to overhaul the article to FAC standards. What with other continuing projects and the prodigious reading required for GBS, this will probably be in the New Year (unless another editor pre-empts the proposal, naturally). Until then if anyone has the time to do a temporary patch-up, fine. If there is a WP ruling that I have missed to the effect that descriptions of plots are exempt from the requirement for verifiability then by all means delete those tags; as a beginner in WP I was quite lax in this regard, but in recent years I have tried to respect WP:V for plots of plays and operas: citing the page range of a published text or a critic's description is easy enough. Tim riley talk 08:30, 14 November 2015 (UTC)

New section on GBS and the Irish Literary Revival[edit]

Besides informing the ongoing debate about Shaw being Irish or British, readers might well need to know what was the relationship between Shaw and this very notable and influential movement in Irish letters. It illustrates that he was part of an, but not the, Irish literary and dramatic revival.Straw Cat (talk) 15:38, 15 November 2015 (UTC)

In view of the progress with getting the page to FA standard, this GA review is overtaken by events, and it does not seem worth delisting it as GA. Tim riley talk 16:02, 3 February 2016 (UTC)

"Nobel Prize and Oscar-winning"[edit]

The lead begins with "George Bernard Shaw (26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950) was a Nobel Prize and Oscar-winning Irish playwright, critic and socialist whose influence on Western theatre, culture and politics stretched from the 1880s to his death in 1950." I had previously removed "Nobel Prize and Oscar-winning" but it was re-inserted. I'd seriously remove any kind of "...-winning" description because it clutters the opening sentence with unnecessary information that is mentioned later in the lead and in this case, prioritizes something that is not of major importance to the person in question (especially considering Shaw himself mostly disapproved of accolades). @Straw Cat: and other editors, any thoughts on this? κατάσταση 17:45, 28 December 2015 (UTC)

A few. Normally I dislike articles strewn with “award-winning”s (sometimes, I suspect, put there by the subject's PRs). But I would make an exception for Nobels – after all, not an awful lot of people in the world get one of those. Nor Oscars. And after a quick random look at articles on Nobel laureates, I notice that in those of Einstein, Yeats, O’Neill, and Faulkner the Nobel is mentioned in the first para of the lead. So there it should stay. The other mention in the lead is not repetitious, because it rightly draws attention to Shaw’s uniqueness in bagging both Nobel and Oscar. Also, we do not allow a subject’s opinions to dictate the article – otherwise we really should rewrite this whole article using Shaw’s peculiar spelling system! Straw Cat (talk) 06:31, 29 December 2015 (UTC)
Fair enough. The Nobel is okay. But not the Oscar. Articles about Oscar winners mostly don't reference the Oscar in the lead paragraph, usually because their career is broader than an Oscar. The fact that Shaw won both awards is, to me, sort of a trivia. Why is that important in his career as a writer? I believe the lead should describe his career and legacy, and awards should stay only the last paragraph of the lead. I just find that the lead sentence does not have to begin with that. Cheers, κατάσταση 14:26, 29 December 2015 (UTC)
Your opinion that awards should be confined to the lead last para is not, as I've shown, that of editors of other articles on Nobel laureates. And as for the additional two words and a hyphen about the Oscar, it is notable and significant because it illustrates Shaw's peculiar position and success (often forgotten today) as both a radical intellectual and a popular writer - a common thing in France with people like Sartre but not so common in Anglophone cultures. But as you have said, we should hear from other editors. Straw Cat (talk) 14:50, 29 December 2015 (UTC)
In the Albert Einstein article, true, awards are mentioned in the first paragraph, but the lead sentence does not go like "a Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist". But yes, I would appreciate if other editors would weigh in as well. Thank you for the comments. Cheers, κατάσταση 15:15, 29 December 2015 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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Article reconstruction[edit]

Tim riley and I have begun an exercise designed to bring this article up to the highest WP standard. Its ancient classification as a "Good Article" is pretty meaningless; it is currently in a rather poor state, seriously under-referenced and its structure looks haphazard. Any editor who feels able to contribute to this project is invited to join in – suggestions will be welcome.

We envisage a broad structure that has worked well in other biographies, thus: Life; Works and; Appraisal/legacy. This will involve expansion, rewriting and reorganisation of material, a process that will extend over several weeks. During that period the article may look a little odd at times, but readers will be alerted by the underconstruction banner and we'll obviously try to minimise the disruption. Brianboulton (talk) 21:30, 29 January 2016 (UTC)

Obviously, improvements by any editor are to be welcomed, but just now there appears to be a large amount of editing and deleting of the article without explanation or rationale. I hope that any proposed changes will be discussed and consensus reached, as normal. Straw Cat (talk) 14:20, 30 January 2016 (UTC)
In preparing the current text so far we have, as usual in pre-FAC overhauls, listed all the cited statements that are in the existing article, and take care that they are addressed. We envisage a Life and Works structure, with the literary side of things addressed in the latter, but we have yet to start on that. The present drive is to get the Life section complete. I don't think we've missed out any cited biographical info from the existing article so far, but we'll review towards the end of the overhaul. Some literary references will find their way into the Works section. Tim riley talk 15:12, 30 January 2016 (UTC)
During the article's major revamp, there is bound to be some moving around and reorganisation of material, wnich may mean the temporary disappearance of text that will be restored in context later. I have also removed a certain amount of the uncited material, which is unlikely to be restored. As to the Irish Revival material reinstated by Straw Cat, I don't think Shaw's involvement with the Irish Literary Revival movement warrants a section to itself. The section is in two parts, the first of which (down to citation 110) could properly be incorporated into the Works commentary section which as Tim points out, hasn't been started yet. The second part of the section, after the citation, has already been moved, in slightly abridged form, to the "World War; Ireland" section later in the article, so currently those details are in twice. I'm happy to leave the first part where it is, for further discussion as to its best location, but the second part should be re-deleted, as it is obviously wrong to include the same material twice. Brianboulton (talk) 16:41, 30 January 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for that, and I don't wish to be rude, but when I see a sentence starting, essentially "X and I have decided that this article's Good Article designation is a pile of **** and we are going to throw out lots of previous work. Other editors' applications to apply to join this exclusive club will be duly considered" I Immediately wonder if, however eminent, those editors ought, when they have a few spare minutes, to re-acquaint themselves with WP:OWNERSHIP. Just sayin', like ... Straw Cat (talk) 08:25, 31 January 2016 (UTC)
The article has been nominated since the latter part of last year for the removal of its GA status, but by all means weigh in at the discussion if you think it meets the GA criteria. As you see, above, we have asked everyone to join us in our endeavours to improve the article. As we have explained, we have not sought to remove cited material. Tim riley talk 08:41, 31 January 2016 (UTC)
I would add that there is often tension between WP:OWNERSHIP and WP:BOLD, but it is better to assume good faith rather than to complain about exclusive clubs etc. Brianboulton (talk) 09:34, 31 January 2016 (UTC)
Well, in the spirit of WP:BOLD I will revert any of your deletions that you fail to explain and justify. Obviously, uncited material needs attention. I do assume good faith and hope you do too; if you wish to be helpful, why not set out your proposed changes beforehand here, and how they are more conducive to GA status. By the way I have a degree in English and Irish Literature; perhaps you can let us know your academic or other qualifications re this article. Straw Cat (talk) 15:03, 31 January 2016 (UTC)
Of course we both AGF, and I can assure you, apropos your comment above, that nobody is accusing you of WP:OWN when you come to the defence of your contribution, which is admirably cited. It is the acres of uncited stuff that are the first problem: it has no place in any WP article, let alone a GA (which is principally why the article is up for demotion) and still less a potential FA. The "citation needed" tags have been in place for many weeks now and nobody has felt moved to add citations for any of them. I hope very much that you will approve of our efforts as the overhaul continues, but that will be for you to say, naturally. Meanwhile, as we have repeatedly said, all assistance in upgrading the text will be very welcome. Tim riley talk 15:51, 31 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Straw Cat: In case you've forgotten, this is how the article looked before the recent work began. Specific problems in that version included:
  • Lack of a discernible logical structure: sections seem to have been added and placed in any old order. There are two sections headed "Photography". Biographical information is scattered all over the place, without any clear or continuous chronology.
  • Large tracts uncited, including whole sections.
  • Undue detail/attention in some areas. The "Novels" section, almost entirely uncited, is about 750 words long, around 10 percent of the entire wordcount! Novels were an early, and relatively minor element of Shaw's output, and should have proportionate attention in the article.
  • "Short stories" section: A medley of information, largely uncited, only a fraction of which has any relevance to Shaw's short stories
  • List of works: Not inappropriate within this article, as there is an existing subarticle List of works by George Bernard Shaw.

These are a few examples. The article was in this sort of state for years, not for lack of edit activity – averaging around 50 a month, involving numerous editors. But there was no plan, no coordination of effort, no attempt at cohesion. That's what is beginning now – someone had to start it, or we'd be faffing around for more months to come. Let's see how things develop over the next few weeks; only you can decide whether, and how, you want to help this process. Brianboulton (talk) 10:09, 1 February 2016 (UTC)

Article structure: some thoughts and ideas[edit]

The tentative structure being utilised during the revamp is that common to many WP biographies of literary or musical subjects: a chronological "Life" section, a "Works" section, an "Appraisal/Legacy" section, and possibly additional minor sections particular to the subject. To date the "Life" section is well under way, though it will no doubt need much further amendment and pruning. Here are a few ideas as to the possible nature of the "Works" section:

  • Subdivisions into genres, possibly "Plays; "Polemics (including political writings)"; "Criticism", "Fiction"; and "Other writing". There is perhaps a case for including fiction with "Other writings", although opinions may differ on that.
  • Each subdivision should be in summary form, rather than a work-by-work analysis that would stretch the article to impossible lengths. There are, after all, individual WP articles for all the main works. Some of the major works can be used illustratively, but not exhaustively, to show what Shaw was attempting to achieve within that genre. I realise that these suggested genre headings are not mutually exclusive and sometimes merge, e.g. plays and polemics. Suggestions for alternative ideas would be welcome.
  • An essential adjunct to the revised "Works" section will be a complete list of works within the linked subarticle. I am working separately on this.

It would be good to have editors' views. I have not given much thought to the character of the Appraisal or Legacy section, beyond that it ought to give a clear idea of what is meant by "Shavianism", possibly Shaw's most enduring cultural legacy. Another topic for discussion in due course.

Brianboulton (talk) 16:59, 3 February 2016 (UTC)

That all seems on the right lines to me. The Plays sub-section needs its own internal structure, I think, if it is not to be unwieldy. I am rather drawn towards grouping the plays by decade, if only because grouping them by genre invites the question of what genre any Shaw play is in.
While I have been going through the Life section I have been struck by the number of odds and ends that don't obviously fit in anywhere but could do with a mention, and Polemics isn't the obvious place for some of them. The list includes
  • Hatred of italics and insistence on emphasising words by s p a c I n g the letters.
  • Allergy to apostrophes in contractions
  • American spelling
  • Other odd spellings (e.g. Shakespear)
  • Membership of the British Interplanetary Society
  • Amateur photographer
  • Jaeger woollen obsession
More suited to a Polemics section:
  • Opposition to immunisation
  • Views on anti-Semitism
  • Views on eugenics
  • Phonetic spelling faddist (though this could go under Legacy)
Some of these are already, some at great length, in the miscellaneous sections of the present article.

Them's my thoughts at present. Tim riley talk 20:42, 3 February 2016 (UTC)

  • More thought needed on some of these. Maybe in Appraisal we need a "Personal idiosyncracies" subsection? I don't think we need the length with which some of them are presently treated. Brianboulton (talk) 00:26, 4 February 2016 (UTC)