'Everything she did was thoroughly calculated; and though the process was so rapid that she was hardly conscious of it, and ascribed it all to her voices, she was a woman of policy and not of blind impulse'
With Saint Joan, Shaw reached the height of his fame as a dramatist. In this magnificent play he distilled many of the ideas he had been trying to express in earlier works on the subjects of politics, religion and creative evolution. Fascinated by the story of Joan of Arc, but unhappy with the way she had traditionally been depicted, Shaw wanted to remove 'the whitewash which disfigures her beyond recognition'. He presents a realistic Joan: proud, intolerant, naive, foolhardy, always brave — a rebel who challenged the conventions and values of her day. As Imogen Stubbs writes, 'All Joans are relevant but some Joans are more relevant than others — I think Shaw's Saint Joan is the right one to be received by the twenty-first century'.
The definitive text under the editorial supervision of Dan H. Laurence
With Saint Joan, Shaw reached the height of his fame as a dramatist. Fascinated by the story of Joan of Arc (canonized in 1920), but unhappy with "the whitewash which disfigures her beyond recognition," he presents a realistic Joan: proud, intolerant, naive, foolhardy, always brave-a rebel who challenged the conventions and values of her day.
Dublin-born George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) was an active Socialist and a brilliant platform speaker. He was strongly critical of London theatre and closely associated with the intellectual revival of British drama. Dan H. Laurence (series editor) has edited Shaw's Collected Letters and Collected Plays with their Prefaces. Imogen Stubbs is an actress and has played leading roles on stage, television and in film. Joley Wood has taught Anglo-Irish literature at Trinity College, Dublin.
By the Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature "[Shaw] did his best in redressing the fateful unbalance between truth and reality, in lifting mankind to a higher rung of social maturity. He often pointed a scornful finger at human frailty, but his jests were never at the expense of humanity." --Thomas Mann
"Shaw will not allow complacency; he hates second-hand opinions; he attacks fashion; he continually challenges and unsettles, questioning and provoking us even when he is making us laugh. And he is still at it. No clich or truism of contemporary life is safe from him." --Michael Holroyd
"In his works Shaw left us his mind. . . . Today we have no Shavian wizard to awaken us with clarity and paradox, and the loss to our national intelligence is immense." --The Sunday Times
"He was a Tolstoy with jokes, a modern Dr. Johnson, a universal genius who on his own modest reckoning put even Shakespeare in the shade." --The Independent
"His plays were superb exercises in high-level argument on every issue under the sun, from feminism and God, to war and eternity, but they were also hits--and still are." --The Daily Mail
SCENE I A fine spring morning on the river Meuse, between Lorraine and Champagne, in the year 1429 A.D., in the castle of Vaucouleurs. Captain Robert de Baudricourt, a military squire, handsome and physically energetic, but with no will of his own, is disguising that defect in his usual fashion by storming terribly at his steward, a trodden worm, scanty of flesh, scanty of hair, who might be any age from 18 to 55, being the sort of man whom age cannot wither because he has never bloomed. The two are in a sunny stone chamber on the first floor of the castle. At a plain strong oak table, seated in chair to match, the captain presents his left profile. The steward stands facing him at the other side of the table, if so deprecatory a stance as his can be called standing. The mullioned thirteenth-century window is open behind him. Near it in the corner is a turret with a narrow arched doorway leading to a winding stair which descends to the courtyard. There is a stout fourlegged stool under the table, and a wooden chest under the window. ROBERT. No eggs! No eggs!! Thousand thunders, man, what do you mean by no eggs? STEWARD. Sir: it is not my fault. It is the act of God. ROBERT. Blasphemy. You tell me there are no eggs; and you blame your Maker for it. STEWARD. Sir: what can I do? I cannot lay eggs. ROBERT [ sarcastic ] Ha! you jest about it. STEWARD. No, sir, God knows. We all have to go without eggs just as you have, sir. The hens will not lay. ROBERT. Indeed! [Rising] Now listen to me, you. STEWARD [ humbly ] Yes, sir. ROBERT. What am I? STEWARD. What are you, sir? ROBERT [ coming at him ] Yes: what am I? Am I Robert, squire of Baudricourt and captain of this castle of Vaucouleurs; or am I a cowboy? STEWARD. Oh, sir, you know you are a greater man here than the king himself. ROBERT. Precisely. And now, do you know what you are? STEWARD. I am nobody, sir, except that I have the honor to be your steward. ROBERT [ driving him to the wall, adjective by adjective ] You have not only the honor of being my steward, but the privilege of being the worst, most incompetent, drivelling snivelling jibbering jabbering idiot of a steward in France. [ He strides back to the table ]. STEWARD [ cowering on the chest ] Yes, sir: to a great man like you I must seem like that. ROBERT [ turning ] My fault, I suppose. Eh? STEWARD [ coming to him deprecatingly ] Oh, sir: you always give my most innocent words such a turn! ROBERT. I will give you neck a turn if you dare tell me, when I ask you how many eggs there are, that you cannot lay any. STEWARD [ protesting ] Oh sir, oh sir - ROBERT. No: not oh sir, or sir, but no sir. My three Barbary hens and the black are the best layers in Champagne. And you come and tell me that there are no eggs! Who stole them? Tell me that, before I kick you out through the castle gate for a liar and a seller of my goods to thieves. The milk was short yesterday, too: do not forget that. STEWARD [ desperate ] I know, sir. I know only too well. There is no milk: there are no eggs: tomorrow there will be nothing. ROBERT. Nothing! You will steal the lot: eh? STEWARD. No, sir: nobody will steal anything. But there is a spell on us: we are bewitched. ROBERT. That story is not good enough for me. Robert de Baudricourt burns witches and hangs thieves. Go. Bring me four dozen eggs and two gallons of milk here in this room before noon, or Heaven have mercy on your bones! I will teach you to make a fool of me. [ He resumes h is seat with an air of finality ]. STEWARD. Sir: I tell you there are no eggs. There will be none - not if you were to kill me for it - as long as The Maid is at the door. ROBERT. The Maid! What maid? What are you talking about? STEWARD. The girl from Lorraine, sir. From Domr
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