Bernard Shaw, 1898-1918 (Magill's Literary Annual 1990)
This is the middle volume of a biographical trilogy undertaken by Michael Holroyd to chronicle and analyze the life and career of one of the most productive, elusive, and versatile writers in the history of literature. Holroyd, who distinguished himself previously with prizewinning, magisterial biographies of Lytton Strachey (1968) and Augustus John (1974), has already devoted sixteen years to his Herculean project. The first volume, subtitled The Search for Love, was published in 1988; the third, intriguingly called The Lure of Fantasy, is promised for 1991.
In his initial volume Holroyd achieved a brilliant book: incisive, compressed yet staggeringly informative, occasionally bold in judgment and consistently elegant in expression. He examined what he saw as traumatic insecurity and mistrust of intimacy behind the artfully contrived persona of the publicly swaggering, arrogantly self-confident phenomenon who became known to the world as “G. B. S.” Shaw’s father was a shabby-genteel, alcoholic ne’er-do-well who could not keep any position. His mother was an embittered, unloving hoarder of hurts, who found inspiration and possibly love in the person of a Svengali-like singing teacher, Vandeleur Lee, to whom Shaw bore an intriguing facial resemblance. In the first volume Holroyd noted the considerable number of triangular relationships in which Shaw involved himself, usually playing the asexual friend to a married woman....
(The entire section is 1739 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1990)
London Review of Books. XI, October 12, 1989, p.14.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. September 10, 1989, p.3.
The New York Review of Books. XXXVI, December 21, 1989, p.27.
The New York Times Book Review. XCIV, September 17, 1989, p.9.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXXVI, July 14, 1989, p.66.
The Times Literary Supplement. September 8, 1989, p.965.
The Washington Post Book World. XIX, September 24, 1989, p.3.
The World & I. IV, December, 1989, p.406.
(The entire section is 58 words.)