Major Barbara (Large Print Edition)

( 2 )


It is after dinner on a January night, in the library in Lady Britomart Undershaft's house in Wilton Crescent. A large and comfortable settee is in the middle of the room, upholstered in dark leather. A person sitting on it [it is vacant at present] would have, on his right, Lady Britomart's writing table, with the lady herself busy at it; a smaller writing table behind him on his left; the door behind him on Lady Britomart's side; and a window with a window seat directly on his...
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Major Barbara

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It is after dinner on a January night, in the library in Lady Britomart Undershaft's house in Wilton Crescent. A large and comfortable settee is in the middle of the room, upholstered in dark leather. A person sitting on it [it is vacant at present] would have, on his right, Lady Britomart's writing table, with the lady herself busy at it; a smaller writing table behind him on his left; the door behind him on Lady Britomart's side; and a window with a window seat directly on his left. Near the window is an armchair.
Lady Britomart is a woman of fifty or thereabouts, well dressed and yet careless of her dress, well bred and quite reckless of her breeding, well mannered and yet appallingly outspoken and indifferent to the opinion of her interlocutory, amiable and yet peremptory, arbitrary, and high-tempered to the last bearable degree, and withal a very typical managing matron of the upper class, treated as a naughty child until she grew into a scolding mother, and finally settling down with plenty of practical ability and worldly experience, limited in the oddest way with domestic and class limitations, conceiving the universe exactly as if it were a large house in Wilton Crescent, though handling her corner of it very effectively on that assumption, and being quite enlightened and liberal as to the books in the library, the pictures on the walls, the music in the portfolios, and the articles in the papers.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

The classic Shaw play is interpreted by this extremely talented cast of 12 performers, which mounts a rousing, unforgettable show complete with incredibly well-produced and realistic sound effects that capture everything from doors creaking open, bustling crowds on city streets and impatient horses ready to trot. Roger Rees as the elder Undershaft and Kirsten Potter as his daughter Barbara are standouts. The two play off each another very well and offer some truly memorable arguments that are the cornerstone of the story. The engaging cast sweeps listeners off to the cobblestone streets of old England. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781491004371
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Publication date: 7/15/2013
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.47 (d)

Meet the Author

George Bernard Shaw was a world-famous playwright. Born in Dublin, he moved to London at age twenty and lived in England for the remainder of his life. Shaw's first success was as a music and literary critic, but he was drawn to drama and authored more than sixty plays during his career.

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Table of Contents

Introduction vii
Preface to Major Barbara
First Aid to Critics 9
The Gospel of St Andrew Undershaft 15
The Salvation Army 24
Barbara's Return to the Colors 27
Weaknesses of the Salvation Army 30
Christianity and Anarchism 39
Sane Conclusions 43
Major Barbara 51
Principal Works of Bernard Shaw 155
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 3 of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 14, 2014

    A classic by one of the greats.

    Major Barbara is a pleasure to read. The characters were interesting, the story fun, and the humor fabulous. I see where P.G. Wodehouse got his licks. Wodehouse was the student, Shaw the master. But the play isn't a mere jest. Shaw was attempting social reform. The points he makes about the criminal justice system are valid to this day, especially his indictment of prison as punishment. If only we could think of something better.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2007

    Money and Morality, Salvation and Society: The Qualms of Major Barbara

    To be perfectly candid, I originally chose this book in a panic because of its slight thickness, which I hoped would aid me in reading it in the limited time given to read and review it. This was a poor basis for making a decision on my part, but it only intensified my delight in the monumental and entertaining story that I found concisely portrayed in its relatively few pages, Through the power of dialect and sparse but descriptive stage directions, Shaw manages to eloquently contain multiple contradicting views on morality, spirituality, classes, wealth, and other grand ideals in the form of multiple intriguing characters. Major Barbara takes place in England in 1906, and not very much actually happens in the course of the book. This may frustrate readers bent on receiving exciting and definitive action. I myself can understand how a book can contain excellent imagery, deep symbolism, and profound thoughts on abstract concepts, but still short of absorbing without an engaging plot to serve as a medium for these great accomplishments. With a lack of extreme action, it seems strange that this play is not a heavy and boring philosophical chore to read. What seems even stranger is the idea that it was written as a play, and as all plays, it is to be most appreciated on the stage its true form is not as printed words, but as actual actions and conversations carried out by the closest things to living tangible characters: actors. This seems strange because one could conceive that a lack of much action driving the plot would be even more impenetrable and wearisome as a live (lack of) action play than in a book, which you can at least go back and read over if something escapes you. Although this would be a logical assumption, this was not the case. To me, the play was far from dull and was even engaging. The potential reason for this would lie not in the story⿿s action but in its characters. Shaw has masterfully created a group of strange and intriguing people out of his descriptions and highly personified dialogue. There is Lady Britomart, the high society matriarch who sticks strongly to her simple yet limited principles and dominates everyone⿿s affairs while getting shocked and offended at the very idea that she is doing so. There is Andrew Undershaft, an indifferent yet amiable war business tycoon who is proud of his materialism and realism to the point of unashamed immorality, even proclaiming that being a millionaire is his religion. There are their children: Stephen, Sarah, and Barbara, who differ from each other immensely. Stephen is a well-mannered, uptight young man struggling politely for independence from his unwittingly dominating mother, but suffers from a severe limitation in perceiving and thinking about things that is similar to his mother. Sarah is a pretty, slender young woman, but is a bored and nondescript personage created by high society. Major Barbara is a near saint, working for the Salvation Army and unshakable in her faith of God and determination to save peoples⿿ souls. However, she suffers from an idealism that, while different from her mother⿿s, is of its same level of one-sidedness, and also inherits some of her mother⿿s disliked meddling and domination. The sweethearts of Sarah and Barbara are also interesting in their contrast. Sarah⿿s fiancé is a man named Charles Lomax, a friendly dandy known for saying ⿿chap,⿠or ⿿Oh, I say ⿠and occasionally offering simple ideas which are largely derided by Lady Britomart. Barbara⿿s love interest is a gentle, cordial, yet intellectually mischievous Greek scholar named Adolphus Cuisins, a sort of agnostic, s gentle cynic, and a casual philosopher. With the natural conflicts between these persons, a battle of the hearts, minds, and souls is imminent. There are other minor characters and scene settings that add to the book. The most important minor characters are those of the various poor people and workers at th

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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