Books: Masks of Genius

GEORGE BERNARD SHAW: MAN OF THE CENTURY (969 pp.)—Archibald Henderson—Appleton-Century-Crofts ($12).

Fifty-one years ago, Bernard Shaw found his Boswell in Archibald Henderson, a stage-struck mathematics professor from the University of North Carolina. In 1911 and 1932, Henderson produced "authorized" biographies of Ireland's cranky genius. This book lacks the official imprimatur, because it was completed after Shaw's death, but it is the most massively, not to say crushingly, definitive Shaw biography ever written.

A half-century of hero worship is not the best school for criticism. But though Henderson's judgments on Shaw are uniformly gentle,...

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