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Androcles and the Lion de Bernard Shaw
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Androcles and the Lion (edició 1957)

de Bernard Shaw (Autor)

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Androcles and the Lion is a 1912 play written by George Bernard Shaw. Androcles and the Lion is Shaw's retelling of the tale of Androcles, a slave who is saved by the requited mercy of a lion. In the play, Shaw makes Androcles out to be one of many Christians being led to the Colosseum for torture. Characters in the play exemplify several themes and takes on both modern and supposed early Christianity, including cultural clash between Jesus' teachings and traditional Roman values.… (més)
Títol:Androcles and the Lion
Autors:Bernard Shaw (Autor)
Informació:Penguin Books (1957)
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
Etiquetes:Plays, English Literature

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Androcles and the Lion de Bernard Shaw

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Es mostren 1-5 de 9 (següent | mostra-les totes)
I love George Bernard Shaw and his commentary on human nature. ( )
  Martha662 | Jun 27, 2020 |
Shaw uses the framework of Aesop's tale of Androcles and the lion to examine how different people exhibit (or fail to exhibit) Christian virtues. In particular importance in the play is the Christian ideal of turning the other cheek. There were many ideas similar to those in "The Devil's Disciple" but as a play I think that this one isn't as good entertainment as "The Devil's Disciple" was. ( )
1 vota leslie.98 | May 23, 2016 |
Androcles and the Lion

An Old Fable
Renovated By

Bernard Shaw

Penguin Books, Paperback, 1946.

12mo. vii+160 pp. Preface on the Prospects of Christianity by Shaw, December 1915 [pp. 9-110].

First produced in Berlin, 1912.
First produced in London, 1913.
First produced in New York, 1915.
First published, 1916.
First published in Penguin Books, 1946.


Preface: On the Prospects of Christianity

- Why not give Christianity a Trial?
- Why Jesus more than Another?
- Was Jesus a Coward?
- Was Jesus a Martyr?
- The Gospels without Prejudice
- The Gospels now Unintelligible to Novices
- Worldliness of the Majority
- Religion of the Minority. Salvationism
- The Difference between Atonement and Punishment
- Salvation at First a Class Privilege; and the Remedy
- Retrospective Atonement, and the Expectation of the Redeemer
- Completion of the Scheme by Luther and Calvin
- John Barleycorn
- Looking for the End of the World
- The Honor of Divine Parentage
- Matthew
- - The Annunciation: The Massacre: The Flight
- - John the Baptist
- - Jesus Joins the Baptists
- - The Savage John and the Civilized Jesus
- - Jesus not a Proselytist
- - The Teachings of Jesus
- - The Miracles
- - Matthew imputes Bigotry to Jesus
- - The Great Change
- - Jerusalem and the Mystical Sacrifice
- - Not this Man but Barabbas
- - The Resurrection
- - Date of Matthew’s Narrative
- - Class Type of Matthew’s Jesus
- Mark
- - The Women Disciples and the Ascension
- Luke
- - Luke the Literary Artist
- - The Charm of Luke’s Narrative
- - The Touch of Parisian Romance
- - Waiting for the Messiah
- John
- - A New Story and a New Character
- - John the Immortal Eye-Witness
- - The Peculiar Theology of Jesus
- - John agreed as to the Trial and Crucifixion
- Credibility of the Gospels
- Fashions of Belief
- Credibility and Truth
- Christian Iconolatry and the Peril of the Iconoclast
- The Alternative to Barabbas
- The Reduction to Modern Practice of Christianity
- Modern Communism
- Redistribution
- Shall he who Makes, Own
- Labor Time
- The Dream of Distribution according to Merit
- Vital Distribution
- Equal Distribution
- The Captain and the Cabin Boy
- The Political and Biological Objections to Inequality
- Jesus as Economist
- Jesus as Biologist
- Money the Midwife of Scientific Communism
- Judge Not
- Limits to Free Will
- Jesus on Marriage and the Family
- Why Jesus did not Marry
- Inconsistency of the Sex Instinct
- For Better for Worse
- The Remedy
- The Case for Marriage
- Celibacy no Remedy
- After the Crucifixion
- The Vindictive Miracles and the Stoning of Stephen
- Paul
- - The Confusion of Christendom
- - The Secret of Paul’s Success
- - Paul’s Qualities
- The Acts of the Apostles
- The Controversies on Baptism and Transubstantiation
- The Alternative Christs
- Credulity no Criterion
- Belief in Personal Immortality no Criterion
- The Secular View Natural, not Rational, therefore Inevitable
- “The Higher Criticism”
- The Perils of Salvationism
- The Importance of Hell in the Salvation Scheme
- The Right to Refuse Atonement
- The Teaching of Christianity
- Christianity and the Empire

Androcles and the Lion
Act I
Act II

Appendix to the Play


One of the common misconceptions about Bernard Shaw is that he generally wrote prefaces to his plays longer than the plays themselves. This is one of the very few cases – the only one? – when this is actually true. As you can see from the table of contents, the preface is substantial not only in length, but also in content. Beware of mutilated editions that reprint the play without the preface or vice versa. Both are self-sufficient works, but neither makes its full sense without the other.

Preface-wise, briefly, Shaw is pro-Jesus and anti-Christian. He argues, rather persuasively, that Christ was a brilliant guy of many talents whose worthwhile teaching was later perverted by the church that bears his name. Jesus, for example, objected strongly to priests and missionaries, not to mention an organised church that amasses an obscene amount of wealth and missionary missions that save the souls of savages by their extermination. Our modern world is a Pauline and Barabbaesque perversion of Christ’s ideals. There is nothing terribly original in all this, but Shaw’s wit is no less amusing for that, nor many of his points less thought-provoking a century later.

I have read the gospels but once many years ago and I don’t remember much. Therefore, I have to take Shaw’s discourse on faith. Many of his conclusions are startling and stimulating. For example, assuming that “Mark leaves the modern reader where Matthew left him”, the other three gospels present three different Christs. Matthew’s Jesus is a haughty aristocrat, while Luke’s is a meek sentimentalist; John’s is something in between, but definitely closer to Matthew’s. It is Luke’s Jesus who has captured the popular imagination: if only Matthew’s gospel had survived, Jesus would have been held in much lower regard today. This is partly because, Shaw observes perceptively, Luke is a literary artist who wrote an emotive prose intended to move the reader, whereas the others were merely chroniclers dispassionately recording events. It would be fun to re-read the gospels and see how accurate Shaw’s versions are.

Shaw, of course, goes much further than gospel chat. He builds a whole new world based on Christ’s teaching as he perceives it. He doesn’t care for divine origin or miracles. If Jesus was mad enough to consider himself a Son of God, that’s fine with Shaw. Since the chief function of miracles is to prove divine origin, they are discarded as completely irrelevant. Indeed, as Rousseau showed, the miracles have had a rather pernicious influence in obscuring the essence of Christ and Christianity. Shaw is entirely concerned with “the political, economic and moral opinions of Jesus, as guides to conduct” and he dismisses the rest as “psychopathy and superstition”. So, what are Jesus’ ideas that we should have noticed but didn’t?

We should have noticed that he was a Communist; that he regarded much of what we call law and order as machinery for robbing the poor under legal forms; that he thought domestic ties a snare for the soul; that he agreed with the proverb "The nearer the Church, the farther from God;" that he saw very plainly that the masters of the community should be its servants and not its oppressors and parasites; and that though he did not tell us not to fight our enemies, he did tell us to love them, and warned us that they who draw the sword shall perish by the sword. All this shows a great power of seeing through vulgar illusions, and a capacity for a higher morality than has yet been established in any civilized community; but it does not place Jesus above Confucius or Plato, not to mention more modern philosophers and moralists.

Leaving aside Confucius and Plato for the moment, Shaw proposes Christian Communism. (“Christian” here means “Christ-inspired”, not in any way related to Christianity as it has become, of course.) This means, in a nutshell, the abolition not only of personal property, but of family ties as well. Somewhat belatedly, remembering that he’s married himself, Shaw is moved to make a half-hearted defence of marriage, but that’s his only concession to tradition. He regards God as “a spirit, to be worshipped in spirit and in truth, and not an elderly gentleman to be bribed and begged from.” The human race is to become one big family undivided by wealth, prejudice or envy. We are all going to sing Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” and “Alle Menschen werden Brüder”.

It is a fascinating thought experiment, this Christian Communism on urban, national and, ultimately, global level. It is sound enough theoretically. Unfortunately or not, it is quite impossible to put it into practice for at least a thousand reasons. Shaw has many fine things to say about, for instance, the grossly unequal distribution of income and the difficulty of judging merit or ownership of final products, but I don’t see how the equality of income, which he dubiously assigns to “huge blocks of people”, can ever happen at all. It seems to me just as unjust as the present situation. I do think it is quite as wrong for a tennis Grand Slam champion to earn a thousand times more for two weeks than a highly qualified physician for a year as it is for a dishwasher to earn as much as a teacher.

This is where Shaw misses the point, as do all others who propose pet theories like Communism, Socialism, Capitalism, Anarchism, etc. Whatever political or economic fantasy you want to see realised, it is bound to produce sooner or later, usually sooner, inequality and injustice. If you want to avoid this, a profound change in human nature must be effected first. I do not profess to know how or when this might happen. Shaw thought that his Christian Communism was the only chance of our civilisation to survive and that the time was ripe for the change. He may have been right about the former, I don’t know, but one hundred years and four months later the whole thing seems more impossible than ever.

Nevertheless, Shaw’s interpretation of Christ as the first Communist is worthy of standing besides Oscar Wilde’s equally secular one of Jesus as the first Individualist proposed in “The Soul of Man Under Socialism” and “De Profundis”. Both are original and compelling, if not exactly practicable, visions. It is not the least merit of Christ that he could inspire such imaginative feats nineteen centuries after his death, even though the final results may be more Shavian and Wildean than Christian.

Androcles and the Lion is a sweet and charming farce. It is preposterous to expect any great depth or complex characters. You should know that by the end of the Prologue when Androcles (“Andy”), much to the dismay of his nagging wife Megaera (“Meggy”), dances a “waltz” with the lion. Shaw’s “renovations” are clearly visible and much to the point. Androcles is a tailor, a sorcerer (according to the Romans), an animal lover and a rather progressive Christian who is convinced that animals do have souls. He is sent to the lions as part of a rather diverse Christian group. Lavinia is an honest, compassioned and broad-minded Christian woman. I don’t know how Wikipedia decided that her famous speech about capturing a mouse “shows that the most important part of religion is earnestness and a lack of hypocrisy”; rather, it shows that much of religion is instinctive and, once acquired at an impressionable age, cannot be easily changed. Ferrovius is a born warrior who is trying, but not succeeding, to renounce violence on Christian lines. Spintho is a libertine in shameless pursuit of martyrdom. (Here’s a spoiler for you: only the last one is eaten by the lion.)

“In this play I have presented one of the Roman persecutions of the early Christians,” writes Shaw in his appendix, “not as the conflict of a false theology with a true, but as what all such persecutions essentially are: an attempt to suppress a propaganda that seemed to threaten the interests involved in the established law and order, organized and maintained in the name of religion and justice by politicians who are pure opportunist Have-and-Holders.” This is quite true. The Romans are portrayed as no less complex than the Christians. Publicly they make much of their religion, but privately they know all this stuff about Jupiter, Diana and co. is nonsense. They do give a chance to all Christians to save their lives by burning a little incense to whomever pagan god they like. The Emperor is merely a bloodthirsty cynic and opportunist with hardly a redeeming quality, certainly with no respect for human life. The pompous dignity of the Captain, on the other hand, is only a mask that hides a man of considerable charm, compassion and common sense.

(Here Be Dragons, e.g. spoilers!)

In a stroke of brilliant Shavian irony, the Emperor is convinced how valuable Christianity is, first, by the fighting prowess of Ferrovius and, second, by Androcles’ taming of the lion. Ferrovius promptly forsakes Christ for Mars, the former having never really touched his heart, and easily stands as a symbol of the militant Christianity that would cause havoc in the next fifteen centuries. As for Androcles, he is saved not because he believes in God, his son Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost, reincarnation, the immortality of the soul and all that rubbish, but simply because he is a good man who helped an animal in distress. In other words, he is saved because he follows the teaching of Jesus Christ more closely than most Christians do. Shaw thus manages to illustrate the main point from his Preface by ingeniously adapting a well-known fable in a highly entertaining way.

Speaking of the book as a whole, the Preface is the thing. It stands as one of Shaw’s most important discourses on religion, economics, politics and anything else. He may occasionally be naïve, misguided, dated or plain wrong, but for the most part he is remarkably relevant and modern. If his accounts of the contradictions in the gospels and the essence of the Pauline perversion of Christ’s ideas are accurate, time cannot touch them, either. The play is a trifle compared to the Preface, but I for one wouldn’t want to be without it. Even the lion, who doesn’t speak a line, is a roaring fun.

Note on the edition

It is part of a uniform set of ten volumes published to celebrate Shaw’s 90th birthday (26 July 1946). The titles are listed opposite the title page and it’s interesting to note that they include Shaw’s virtually unknown short stories, but nothing from his musical and dramatic criticism or his political and social writings (save this Preface). The paper is unusually thin and transparent; the former makes for a deceptively thin book, while the latter makes reading a little more difficult than it should be. The binding is exceptionally durable. It holds quite well 70 years after publication - quite an achievement for a paperback. ( )
3 vota Waldstein | Mar 6, 2016 |
  kutheatre | Jun 7, 2015 |
A fun little work, short and to the point, based on the old fable, but with more wisecracking and dialogue. Shaw does not go out of his way to make any side of this look good, and Androcles himself is a wimpy sort of guy, lacking in any real courage except where animals are concerned. The Christians are not the bad guys, but neither are the pagans. They are all just sort of strange, with odd beliefs that at least some of them are willing to die for. Shaw skewers everyone equally, but there is a gentleness to his fun, and many of the characters are actually likeable. This was worth the time I spent. ( )
1 vota Devil_llama | Dec 7, 2014 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 9 (següent | mostra-les totes)
The general formula of George Bernard Shaw, to wit, the announcement of the obvious in terms of the scandalous, is made so palpable in his new book, Androcles and the Lion, that even such besotted Shawolators as George Jean Nathan will at last perceive and acknowledge it...

Nevertheless, this preface makes bouncing reading—and for the plain reason that Shaw is a clever workman in letters, and knows how to wrap up old goods in charming wrappers. When, in disposing of the common delusion that Jesus was a long-faced tear-squeezer like John the Baptist or the average Methodist evangelist, he arrives at the conclusion that He was “what we should call an artist and a Bohemian in His manner of life,” the result, no doubt, is a shock and a clandestine thrill to those who have been confusing the sour donkey they hear every Sunday with the genial, good-humored and likable Man they affect to worship.
afegit per SnootyBaronet | editaThe Smart Set, H. L. Mencken
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Androcles and the Lion is a 1912 play written by George Bernard Shaw. Androcles and the Lion is Shaw's retelling of the tale of Androcles, a slave who is saved by the requited mercy of a lion. In the play, Shaw makes Androcles out to be one of many Christians being led to the Colosseum for torture. Characters in the play exemplify several themes and takes on both modern and supposed early Christianity, including cultural clash between Jesus' teachings and traditional Roman values.

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