Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Although George Bernard Shaw is generally thought of as a dramatist, he wrote a considerable amount of nondramatic prose. He completed, for example, several novels before turning to the stage, and even though none of them is likely to be remembered for its own sake, all show Shaw’s gift for witty dialogue. His The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism and Capitalism (1928), written for his sister-in-law, is one of the clearest expositions of socialism or communism ever written. The Quintessence of Ibsenism (1891), The Perfect Wagnerite (1898), and The Sanity of Art (1908) are representative of his criticism in drama, music, and art, respectively. The prefaces to his plays—some of which are longer than the plays they preface and which often explain little about the plays themselves—are brilliantly written criticisms of everything from the four Gospels to the contemporary prison system.

Other notable Shaw works include Fabian Essays in Socialism (1889), The Common Sense of Municipal Trading (1904), Dramatic Opinions and Essays (1907), The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God (1932), and several collections of letters: Letters to Miss Alma Murray (1927), Ellen Terry and Shaw (1931), Correspondence Between George Bernard Shaw and Mrs. Patrick Campbell (1952), Collected Letters (1965-1988, 4 volumes; Dan H. Laurence, editor), and The Nondramatic Literary Criticism of Bernard Shaw (1972; Stanley Weintraub, editor).