George Bernard Shaw quotes

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George Bernard Shaw

Birthdate: 26. July 1856
Date of death: 2. November 1950

George Bernard Shaw , known at his insistence simply as Bernard Shaw, was an Irish playwright, critic, polemicist and political activist. His influence on Western theatre, culture and politics extended from the 1880s to his death and beyond. He wrote more than sixty plays, including major works such as Man and Superman , Pygmalion and Saint Joan . With a range incorporating both contemporary satire and historical allegory, Shaw became the leading dramatist of his generation, and in 1925 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Born in Dublin, Shaw moved to London in 1876, where he struggled to establish himself as a writer and novelist, and embarked on a rigorous process of self-education. By the mid-1880s he had become a respected theatre and music critic. Following a political awakening, he joined the gradualist Fabian Society and became its most prominent pamphleteer. Shaw had been writing plays for years before his first public success, Arms and the Man in 1894. Influenced by Henrik Ibsen, he sought to introduce a new realism into English-language drama, using his plays as vehicles to disseminate his political, social and religious ideas. By the early twentieth century his reputation as a dramatist was secured with a series of critical and popular successes that included Major Barbara, The Doctor's Dilemma and Caesar and Cleopatra.

Shaw's expressed views were often contentious; he promoted eugenics and alphabet reform, and opposed vaccination and organised religion. He courted unpopularity by denouncing both sides in the First World War as equally culpable, and although not a republican, castigated British policy on Ireland in the postwar period. These stances had no lasting effect on his standing or productivity as a dramatist; the inter-war years saw a series of often ambitious plays, which achieved varying degrees of popular success. In 1938 he provided the screenplay for a filmed version of Pygmalion for which he received an Academy Award. His appetite for politics and controversy remained undiminished; by the late 1920s he had largely renounced Fabian Society gradualism and often wrote and spoke favourably of dictatorships of the right and left—he expressed admiration for both Mussolini and Stalin. In the final decade of his life he made fewer public statements, but continued to write prolifically until shortly before his death, aged ninety-four, having refused all state honours, including the Order of Merit in 1946.

Since Shaw's death scholarly and critical opinion about his works has varied, but he has regularly been rated among British dramatists as second only to Shakespeare; analysts recognise his extensive influence on generations of English-language playwrights. The word Shavian has entered the language as encapsulating Shaw's ideas and his means of expressing them.

Works

Pygmalion
Pygmalion
George Bernard Shaw
Man and Superman
Man and Superman
George Bernard Shaw
Saint Joan
Saint Joan
George Bernard Shaw
Major Barbara
Major Barbara
George Bernard Shaw
The Apple Cart
The Apple Cart
George Bernard Shaw
Back to Methuselah
Back to Methuselah
George Bernard Shaw
Fanny's First Play
Fanny's First Play
George Bernard Shaw
You Never Can Tell
You Never Can Tell
George Bernard Shaw
The Devil's Disciple
The Devil's Disciple
George Bernard Shaw
Heartbreak House
Heartbreak House
George Bernard Shaw
Mrs. Warren's Profession
Mrs. Warren's Profession
George Bernard Shaw
Caesar and Cleopatra
Caesar and Cleopatra
George Bernard Shaw
Candida
Candida
George Bernard Shaw
Three Plays for Puritans
Three Plays for Puritans
George Bernard Shaw
Misalliance
George Bernard Shaw
John Bull's Other Island
John Bull's Other Island
George Bernard Shaw
Overruled
Overruled
George Bernard Shaw
Androcles and the Lion
Androcles and the Lion
George Bernard Shaw
Arms and the Man
Arms and the Man
George Bernard Shaw
The Doctor's Dilemma
The Doctor's Dilemma
George Bernard Shaw
The Dark Lady of the Sonnets
The Dark Lady of the Sonnets
George Bernard Shaw

„Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.“

—  George Bernard Shaw

Variant: Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.

„A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.“

—  George Bernard Shaw

Preface
1910s, The Doctor's Dilemma (1911)
Variant: A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.
Context: Attention and activity lead to mistakes as well as to successes; but a life spent in making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.

„If you're going to tell people the truth, you better make them laugh; otherwise they'll kill you.“

—  George Bernard Shaw

Credited to Shaw in the lead in to the mockumentary C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America (2004) and other recent works, but this or slight variants of it are also sometimes attributed to W. C. Fields, Charlie Chaplin, and Oscar Wilde. It might possibly be derived from Shaw's statement in John Bull's Other Island (1907): "My way of joking is to tell the truth. It's the funniest joke in the world."
Another possibility is that it is derived from Shaw's characteristic of Mark Twain: "He has to put things in such a way as to make people who would otherwise hang him believe he is joking."
Variants:
If you are going to tell people the truth, you'd better make them laugh. Otherwise, they'll kill you.
If you're going to tell people the truth, you'd better make them laugh. Otherwise, they'll kill you.
Disputed

Citát „Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.“

„Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.“

—  George Bernard Shaw

Everybody's Political What's What? (ebook, must be borrowed) https://openlibrary.org/books/OL24979564M/Everybody's_political_what's_what (1944), Chapter XXXVII: Creed and Conduct, p. 330
1940s and later
Variant: Progress is impossible without change; and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.
Context: Progress is impossible without change; and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything. Creeds, articles, and institutes of religious faith ossify our brains and make change impossible. As such they are nuisances, and in practice have to be mostly ignored.

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„If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.“

—  George Bernard Shaw

Variant: If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.
Source: Immaturity

„The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.“

—  George Bernard Shaw

The attribution to Shaw comes from Leadership Skills for Managers (2000) by Marlene Caroselli, p. 71. But this quote seems more likely to come from William H. Whyte. The Biggest Problem in Communication Is the Illusion That It Has Taken Place, Quote Investigator, 2014-08-31, 2015-11-09 http://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/08/31/illusion/,
Misattributed

„Success does not consist in never making blunders, but in never making the same one a second time.“

—  George Bernard Shaw

H. W. Shaw (Josh Billings), as quoted in Scientific American, Vol. 31 (1874), p. 121, and in dictionaries of quotations such as Excellent Quotations for Home and School (1890) by Julia B. Hoitt, p. 117 https://archive.org/stream/excellentquotat00hoitgoog/excellentquotat00hoitgoog#page/n138/mode/1up and Many Thoughts of Many Minds: A Treasury of Quotations from the Literature of Every Land and Every Age (1896) by Louis Klopsch, p. 266 https://archive.org/stream/manythoughtsman00klopgoog/manythoughtsman00klopgoog#page/n268/mode/1up.
Misattributed

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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