Thursday, June 19, 2014


Shaw aficionados will surely know that the above quotation is from Candida (1898). Morell was explaining his views on happiness and how "An honest man feels that he must pay Heaven for every hour of happiness with a good spell of hard, unselfish work to make others happy." That is the rationale for his words, although there's always room for some socialist / anti-capitalist discourse

By the way, if you want to see some really nice photos of two German productions of Candidathe Deutsche Fotothek contains a large collection of digitized Shaviana, including pictures of the playwright and productions of many of his plays.  

Fotothek df pk 0000013 006 Szenenbilder

However, my interest in beginning with the Candida quotation is purely syntactic. As I write these lines, King Philip VI of Spain is ascending to the throne of my country, which reminds me of another Shaw quotation with a very similar syntactic structure:

"The established Government has no more right to call itself the State than the smoke of London has to call itself the weather."

These words, taken from Shaw's A Manifesto. Fabian Tract 2 (1884), reveal themselves as particularly relevant, now that the Spanish government - just as all the other governments in monarchies all over the world experience every so often - has suddenly realized they are also subjects of a monarch that embodies the State. Of course, Shaw was probably referring to the transiency of governments (whether democratic or not) - the State being the only relatively permanent institution. 

Well, at least we're lucky that the new king  only has two daughters, for we learnt from Shaw that 

"Women make the best sovereigns. The Salic law is a mistake: it should be the other way about. Constitutional monarchy is not a man’s job: it is a woman’s. The relation of a king to his ministers is intolerable: the relation of a queen to them is much better."

These words have been extracted from a 1913 letter to Sylvia Brooke, quoted in Stanley Weintraub's Shaw's People: Victoria to Churchill, and remain the only consolation for many in Spain. However, it has always been the custom everywhere not to follow Shaw's advice, and so we find ourselves "up to our necks in trouble."

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