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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A bit didactic but full of fun, gaiety, humor & Shavian wit
Published as a play in 1916, 'Pygmalion' is one of Shah's play
not 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,...
Published on June 29 2004 by Sushil Markandeya

versus
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Beware: awful edition!!
This is a comment on the edition, not on the actual play itself (which is great). This edition of *Pygmalion* is incomplete, awfully incomplete. I ignore if Shaw rewrote the play, or what may have happened, but if you intend to read the real version, look for other publisher!
Published on March 2 2004 by Diana Arbiser


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5.0 out of 5 stars An Inspiring Look at the 20th Century British Class System, Nov. 27 2005
This review is from: Pygmalion (Paperback)
This is one of Shaw's best works ever. Pygmalion is set in London during the 20th Century, a time when one's social status is held above all else. Shaw's production includes the rich and famous Professor Henry Higgins, a linguistics professor, and Colonel Pickering, a man who is as distinguished in the study of Indian dialect as Higgins is in English. It follows the two men as they attempt to change a common flower girl of the lowest of worlds, Eliza Doolittle, into a proper lady. Pickering places a wager with Higgins, convinced that with his skills, Higgins will be able to pass Eliza off as a duchess at the upcoming ambassador's garden party. Treating her no better than the garbage on the streets from which she came and showing no disregard for her feelings, Higgins spends day and night in an attempt to change Eliza's painful cockney accent into one of a lady of high social status. Shaw's production is a fantastically funny, frustrating and inspiring look at the struggles Eliza faces as she is taken from a world to which she can never return, and taught to conform to a world to which she will never belong. Pygmalion is a social commentary on London's class system in the 20th century, with a focus on employment opportunities, and gender and social discrimination. It is a romantic, but devastating story of the sacrifices one will make in order to be accepted by society, even if the ultimate cost is one's identity. I recommend this play to everyone. Pygmalion is an absolutely outstanding production; one which you will be sorry that you did not read sooner.
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5.0 out of 5 stars GBS: The King of Social Commentary, Nov. 23 2005
By 
Amanda (Ottawa, Ontario) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Pygmalion (Paperback)
Through clever innuendo and masterful storytelling, George Bernard Shaw satirizes and scrutinizes the social norms of his time in this 'comedy of manners' about a young cockney flower girl and her arduous climb to middle class stature with the help of the incorrigible Henry Higgins. As well as offering an intriguing perspective on lower class versus upper-middle class lifestyles and attitudes, Shaw introduces the concept that the class system itself is really just a matter of phonetics. By a simple alteration of her mannerisms and speech patterns, Eliza Doolittle is able to pass as a virtual princess among her middle class betters. Shaw presents an off-kilter romance between Eliza and Higgins, parodying the idea that the only way for a woman to make anything of herself in the middle class is to marry up. Eliza's acsent on the social totem pole is also paralleled with her father's similar, less willing transformation in which Shaw displays his impeccable grasp of comedic irony. It is only once Eliza realizes the implications of becoming a 'proper lady' that she considers the appeal of her previous life in the gutter.
The writing itself is witty, succinct and to the point. With references to politics, socialism, feminism, Freud, and Milton, Shaw captivates his audience from beginning to end, leaving virtually no stone unturned. Despite the fact that Shaw penned Pygmalion nearly 100 years ago, its value resonates well into the twenty-first century having been adapted into such presentations as My Fair Lady and Educating Rita. Shaw will no doubt remain one of the defining names in literary drama combining the socialism of Marx and the semantic prowess of Ibsen - he will be forever remembered for constantly attacking the status quo. Pygmalion is a masterpiece!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A bit didactic but full of fun, gaiety, humor & Shavian wit, June 7 2004
Published as a play in 1916, 'Pygmalion' is one of Shah's play
not 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 is a romantic
angle, (Liza and Freddy) the relationship between Liza vis-à-vis
Higgins and Pickering are pivotal, focal relationships of the
play. The Liza, Freddy romance is a relegated affair. I feel
only Shaw could do this i.e. make a non-romantic relationship so
interesting over the other. But then Shaw loved debunking
popular notions. All in all a much readable play.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A bit didactic-full of fun, gaiety, humor & Shavian wit, May 27 2004
This review is from: Pygmalion (Audio CD)
Published as a play in 1916, 'Pygmalion' is one of Shah's play not 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 is a romantic angle, (Liza and Freddy) the relationship between Liza vis-à-vis Higgins and Pickering are pivotal, focal relationships of the play. The Liza, Freddy romance is a relegated affair. I feel only Shaw could do this i.e. make a non-romantic relationship so interesting over the other. But then Shaw loved debunking popular notions. All in all a much readable play.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The sweetest thing, Feb. 3 2004
This review is from: Pygmalion (Paperback)
It is not very likely that George Bernard Shaw knew he was writing the play that would become one of the seminal romantic comedies of the 20th when he penned 'Pygmalion'. The play is delightful, with borrowed elements from many genres. There is comedy and romance, above all, but there is also a very clear social critic -- and even a Marxist idea of class struggle. What only enhances the reading of this masterpiece.
Professor Henry Higgins is a linguistic expert who is much more interested in how people say the words rather than what they say. He ends up taking a bet that he is able to transform a simple cockney flower seller, Eliza, into a sophisticated and refined young lady, who would be able to fool the Queen herself. To succeed in such a move he claims he will change only the way she speaks.
To work on Eliza he puts her up in his house and starts polishing her speech. This is not an easy job, because what the girl speaks is not English, but a language she has developed herself. After some time, the Professor decides to introduce her to a group of friends, without mentioning her backgrounds. At first the meeting is blast. Although Eliza can use a fine language it is clear she has not backgrounds to develop and keep up a conversation. And her behavior ends up being the laughing stock. But one of the guests notices how beautiful the girl is. Higgins feels sort of jealous and this could lead their relationship to another level.
Shaw's prose is funny and touching at the same time. He uses devices, like everybody speaking at the same time, which only enhances the fun of the play and brings more truth to the action. His characters are lively and well developed. His social critic is evident. Eliza doesn't want to be rich or sound as such, she only wants to get a better job in a flower store, in other words, she only wants to be what she is. But the Professor insists on making her another person, very different from what she really is. Eliza's presence is the sweetest thing in the play. She is a nice and good-hearted girl, who suffers the consequence of her surroundings.
The play is based on the Greek tragedy 'Pygmalion and Galatea', and was the base for one of the most famous musicals of the cinema, 'My Fair Lady'.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The acting was great but the story went no where, Oct. 1 2002
By 
"honeydick" (Toronto Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Pygmalion 3D (Audio CD)
I have to confess that I found Shaw's play a bit boring. While there are points to be had here I found the long scenes and prolonged dialogue a tad combersome. Of course Shaw's main point is to show that one can rise above one's social status in life and better himself if given the chance. All fine and good but the plot to this play drags for far too long. Higgins comes across a as an asexual wooden being which totally brings the story down. Eliza is too prudish for my taste and the rest of the characters are just bland. In most scenes people seem to be screaming at each other rather then trying to move the sstory along. It truly was a chore to get through this one. As for the acting, it was fine but working with such a lame script the actors didnt' much engage my Attention. No, I would have to say this is a miss from Naxos which otherwise produces excellent audio books. I haven't tried Naxos's other full cast productions but I will see. This book contains three CDs it is a full cast version with sound effects and music. The third CD contains notes regarding the play and speculations on what happened afterwards. I found it all rather dry.
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3.0 out of 5 stars 'My Fair Lady' wins out, May 30 2002
By 
This review is from: Pygmalion (Mass Market Paperback)
Ever since I was a little girl, the musical 'My Fair Lady' has been a favorite of mine. I love the music, and sing along with 'I Could Have Danced All Night' in my bedroom, flopping on the bed just as Eliza does. It was my love of the musical that persuaded me to read 'Pygmalion', and I was, frankly, quite surprised. Going into the reading, I knew only that My Fair Lady was an adaptation of the book, and I expected the book to be dry, old and crusty, with stress on Grecian themes and approaches to literature. You can imagine my surprise when I started to read!
While I was surprised at finding out what the book was actually about, my enjoyment was not squelched at learning it wasn't to be what I thought it was. I rather enjoyed picking out lines from the show that I found in the book ("I find the moment I become friends with a woman, I become selfish and tyrannical.."). I couldn't help reading Eliza and Henry Higgins with similar inflections I remembered from the show, and my knowledge and familiarity with the staged version added immensely to my enjoyment of the book.
The only thing that left me disappointed was the ending! I much prefer the ending chosen for the stage, rather than the realistic and depressing ending of the book. (Marry Freddy!?) While I'm now able to more enjoy the musical, and would recommend the book to anyone interested in reading a witty, well written play, I feel the musical suits me more.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Literature romantic social comedy, May 19 2002
By 
Amazon Customer (The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Pygmalion (Mass Market Paperback)
When Professor Henry Higgins boasts that he could take a ragamuffin flower girl and teach her to talk like a duchess in three months, Eliza Doolittle decides to take lessons so she can get a position in a flower shop. But then Colonel Pickering, another expert on phonetics, decides to turn the Professor's boast into a wager. Higgins takes the bet and Eliza is whisked off to begin her transformation. Within a few days Higgins is able to take her to his mother's house where none of the high society folk who had seen Eliza at Covent Garden recognize the flower girl.
Eliza succeeds at the her big test when she is passed off as a great duchess at an ambassador's garden party, but when Higgins celebrates the great success, Eliza chucks a slipper at him. Not only have they ignored her contributions to the experiment's success, she now wants to know what is to become of her. With her new command of the English language she no longer fits back with her friends and because of her low birth will never fit in with high society. Eliza leaves, determined to earn some respect and her own independence, while Higgins wants Eliza to come back so everything will be the way it was.
PYGMALION is based in part on the ancient myth of the sculptor who fall sin love with the beautiful statue he has carved, but in the hands of playwright George Bernard Shaw it is also a critique of the social strata of British society, where elocution separates high from low just as much as birth or wealth. The iconoclastic Shaw even goes on in the preface to his play about the absurdity of English spelling in connection with English pronunciation. However, readers should resist the impulse to read romance into this didactic play where no romance is intended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Evolution of Pygmalion, Sept. 13 2001
By 
christine (buffalo, N.Y.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Pygmalion (Mass Market Paperback)
Pygmalion is a brilliant success by George Bernard Shaw to modernize the legendary Greek tale of a sculptor who falls in love with his artsitic creation and wishes to bring her to life. The rags-to-riches tale of Eliza Doolittle captivates the reader with its fast paced storyline, and witty dialogue. Shaw fascinates the reader with complicated characters such as Henry Higgins, Doolittle, and Colonel Pickering. Set in England, during a period of sophistication and elegance, Higgins and Pickering were faced with the seemingly impossible task of transforming a filthy flower girl (Eliza) into a beautiful duchess. The outrageous antics that ensue are both humorous and entertaining. Shaw's playful dialogue and timeless plot have been updated to fit the social and cultural standards of our time. For example, Alan Jay Lerner's My Fair Lady is an internationally acclaimed musical adaptation of Shaw's classic play. 1999 brought yet another adaptation of Pygmalion, in the form of the film She's All That, penned by R. Lee Fleming Jr. This teen comedy brings a new twist to the classic characters of Shaw's play. Pygmalion is a quick read and an enjoyable way to spend the day, and the characters in the story will remain with you forever.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect..., March 4 2001
This review is from: Pygmalion (Mass Market Paperback)
This play is absolutely marvelous. It is about a girl from the English gutter who dares to ask a wealthy man she met on the street to teach her how to speak properly. She goes through a painful process of relearning, but then finally one day, she goes to talk to some guests. This is probably the funniest parts in the book, for she says the most absurd things you ever heard. Then after a while, she goes to a garden party where she is exactly the opposite of what she was in the previous scene. People are amazed at her clarity in speech, and she also looks and acts like a queen. But then they think she is a fraud, and they start believing she really is of royal blood. It ends with her loving her teacher, but she never marries him. So it ends hanging, but it makes so much sense that is does not seem that way. The play is so funny, that if nothing else will make you laugh, this will. The play itself is short, but is brimming with satire and sarcasm. I myself read it few years ago at the age of 9 or 10, so I think that any child will also enjoy it. Enjoy! Cheers!!! : )
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