Books: Timidity & Temerity

SAMUEL BUTLER (118 pp.)—G. D. H. Cole—Alan Swallow ($2).

It went on for years—every time Bernard Shaw put on a new play, British critics said it showed the influence of Ibsen, or Nietzsche, or Schopenhauer, or some other subversive foreigner. "I confess," cried Shaw (in 1906), "there is something flattering in this simple faith in my accomplishment as a linguist and my erudition as a philosopher." But it was high time, he said, for him to scotch this "unpatriotic habit" by setting the critics straight.

As always, Shaw enjoyed himself. He trotted out a string of British and Irish influencers whom most of...

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