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Paperback Pygmalion - Literary Touchstone Classic Book

ISBN: 1580493998

ISBN13: 9781580493994

Pygmalion - Literary Touchstone Classic

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

This Prestwick House Literary Touchstone Edition? includes a glossary and reader's notes to help the modern reader appreciate Shaw's wit and cynicism.In this delightful romance about the man too self-centered to fall in love and the woman too unsure of herself to want more out of life than the little she already has, George Bernard Shaw shakes the dust off the Cinderella story and tells it as only he can. Eliza Doolittle, the Cockney flower girl who...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

All kinds of hilarity!

What happens when you pull a girl out of the gutter and make it your goal to teach her how to act like a princess? All kinds of hilarity! This story was smart and funny. I loved it and wanted more when it was over. I'll have to buy another one of Shaw's books. I just love his style. I can't resist any chance I can get to peek into the mind of a genius, and Shaw was a true genius. This story was delightful and brilliant. Eliza is unforgettable. She's intelligent, fiery, and stubborn and makes Higgins earn every cent of the money wagered in his bet that he can transform her into a lady. This is an absolutely charming story. I highly recommend it.


This book is very useful and interesting. One can learn a lesson from the story as well.

Pygmalion Rocks!

T. Cook writes: A true "diamond in the rough," Pygmalion is one of the cleverest and underrated plays written. Shaw conveys the faulty class system of Europe through the memorable Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle. Eliza, a cockney girl from the poor part of London, has trademark accent and original sounds, like "Ah-ah-ah-ow-ow-ow-oo." Despite her poor living conditions, she is able to retain her honor and good character. She often repeats "I'm a good girl, I am." This shows that she is not willing to sell her own body and sacrifice her integrity in order to get by. Henry Higgins, in comparison, is on the higher end of the class scale. His ability to replicate any sound and to place a man within any part of London demonstrates his expertise in his field. He uses vulgar words, however, like "bloody," "devil," and "damned." He is also oblivious to his faults such as his anger and foul language. The differences in characterization show the problems with the class system; the high moral characters are in the lower class while vulgar characters are found in the high class. While the general population is not as familiar with Pygmalion as it is with My Fair Lady, Pygmalion is superior to its movie counterpart. First, Eliza's strong accent is more evident in the play due to the strange spelling of words; the confusion of the reader in deciphering these words mirror the Londoners' confusion in listening to Eliza. Second, Rex Harrison does not fully convey the volatile nature of Higgins; Higgins in Pygmalion is capable of going from happy to furious within one line and Harrison's emotions are similar to that of a wall. I highly recommend Pygmalion because it is a classic that is enjoyable to read and better crafted than its more famous movie adaptation.

Pygmalion, witty and hilarious

Shawian wit at its best is the first thing that comes to mind when reading Pygmalion. The play is about the transformation of Eliza Doolitle from a poor flower girl into a woman of status. The entire plot is predicated upon the assertion that social status can be bettered by simply changing the manner in which we speak. To this end phonetisist Henry Higgins, arrogant intellectual par excellence, takes upon himself the arduous task of transforming Eliza's indecent lower class accent into the respectable and fashionable speech patterns of the better off. Humour in the play is very prevalent, especially in the character of Henry Higgins. Shaw is a master of cynicism and wit, and his lines, spoken through Higgins, are absolutely hilarious. The respectable, demure nature of the colonel is used perfectly to offset the insensitive callousness of the professor. Higgins is absolutely full of unrelenting opinions on almost any subject, and ready to belittle all those he finds unworthy of his intellectual attention. He regards the world as his laboratory, and people have no more value to him than as equal test subjects before their master experimenter. Obviously, this makes for a highly interesting and entertaining character. This play also offers an insightful look into the social order of the time. Very marked class divisions and the relationship between them being one of the central themes to the play. As well, the social conventions of the time, with the very strict Victorian morality at the forefront are satirized and examined. This is seen especially with Eliza's father, as he criticizes the moral standards of each class. The play also has a very interesting denouement which Shaw provides not so much in the play, but in prose at the end of the play. It is a denouement that traditional mainstream sentimentalism would not expect, but which, as Shaw so aptly explains, is thoroughly reasonable. And what does Shaw care for romantically befitting endings? None at all, the ending is perfectly in tune with his tone and cynicism, and therefore perfect, do not let 'My Fair Lady' tell you any different!

A bit didactic but full of fun, gaiety, humor & Shavian wit

Published as a play in 1916, 'Pygmalion' is one of Shah's playnot heavy on philosophy. I, personally feel that his plays heavy on philosophy are his best - 'Man and Superman', 'St. Joan', 'Androcles and the Lion' et al. Among his plays of 'not heavy on philosophy' genre, I rate 'Pygmalion' as one of the best. It is full of fun, gaiety, humor, Shavian wit and is a wee bit didactic. As Shaw wrote in the preface of 'Man and Superman', that all good, great writing should be didactic. So, even in the mildly didactic 'Pygmalion', Shaw had more than one axe to grind so to say.The central theme of Pygmalion is the gift of speech in human beings. Shaw has tried to depict as to how a person speaks affects their own personality and the people around. As a corollary to this theme, Shaw hoped to popularize the science of phonetics. In the short preface of the play, Shaw also makes a plea for enhancement of the English alphabet (with it's too few vowels and few consonants) to make English reading pronunciation rational. Both his wishes of popularizing phonetics and getting the English alphabet enlarged remain unfulfilled even today, perhaps a measure of how much ahead of the times he was or still is!The locale is London's Covent Garden vegetable market. The time is late night. It is pouring heavily, everybody is seeking the shelter of a church's portico. Among the shelter seekers is an impoverished, bedraggled flower girl Liza with a terrible cockney accent. Liza is trying to peddle her flowers to the crowd of shelter seekers. A middle- aged gentleman, professor Higgins is taking down her speech (in Bells Visible Speech) in his notebook. Professor Higgins is an eccentric phonetician, expert on London accents and can place a person by their accent to the street they originate from. One other shelter seeker is an ex-military man, Colonel Pickering (also middle aged) with a deep interest in phonetics. As professor Higgins Colonel Pickering get talking, Higgins bemoans the terrible accent of Liza (most depressing and disgusting sounds) and boasts that if given a chance to teach and train her to speak for three months, he could pass her off as a duchess on the basis of her fine way of speaking! It comes about that Colonel Pickering is willing to bear the expense of teaching Liza to speak by Higgins. The rest of the play is about Liza 'the live doll' learning to speak like a Duchess from two confirmed bachelors Higgins and Pickering and whether they are able to pass her off as a duchess.The woman protagonist character of the play Liza like all Shaw's woman protagonist character is strong willed and assertive. Having to endure during her learning the overbearing ways, domineering mien, downright bullying from a socially superior Higgins her teacher, she manages to hold her own. In the latter stages of the play, she even manages to get the better of him and Higgins has to tamely acknowledge that he has made a 'woman' of her after all. (a lame defence) Although there i
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