Shaw’s Two-Word Solution on How to Stop War

Signed by George Bernard Shaw

Item: 20851
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SHAW, GEORGE BERNARD. (1856-1950). Irish playwright and critic perhaps best known for his works Saint Joan and Pygmalion. AMsS. (“G.B.S.”). One sentence. 4to. (London), December 4, 1929. [To Henry Losti Russell.] A typed question asking “What is the best way to prevent war?” to which Shaw has responded:

“Stop fighting: that is the only way. G.B.S. 4/12/29” 

George Bernard Shaw

Shaw began his career on April 21, 1894, when his Arms and the Man, which explores the futility of war, opened to great acclaim in London. His foremost international success, it represented “the true beginning of [his] recognition as a popular dramatist,” (Encyclopedia Britannica). Likened by some to Shakespeare, Shaw combined satire, comedy and social criticism in his more than 50 plays. His famous stage works include Saint Joan (for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1925), Man and Superman and Pygmalion the inspiration for the popular musical My Fair Lady.

World War I prompted Shaw to abandon the creation of socially critical drama, and instead write criticism about the horrors of the period. During the war Shaw published a controversial pamphlet, Common Sense about the War, suggesting that both Great Britain and the Allies were as responsible as the Germans for the atrocities committed, and argued for negotiation and peace. He also gave numerous anti-war speeches, and provoked much criticism from his countrymen.

In 1928 Shaw authored The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism, Capitalism, Sovietism and Fascism and by the 1930s identified himself as a communist. Shaw also had strong opinions on the Treaty of Versailles signed at the end of World War I. “Shaw recognized that there was a human instinct called nationalism that made people ‘dissatisfied unless they think they are governed by themselves and not by foreigners’. He believed that the Treaty of Versailles, which placed Germany in an inferior position, was an affront to that instinct, and that Hitler had been hoisted to power by the force of national resentment. Such was the outcome of an abuse of victory. He had urged the Allies to dismantle the military frontiers imposed by the Treaty, and when they failed to take this initiative he applauded Hitler for ‘the political sagacity and courage with which he has rescued Germany from the gutter and placed her once more at the head of Central Europe,’” (Bernard Shaw: The Lure of Fantasy 1918-1951, Holroyd). It is undoubtedly because of his many published comments on these matters that Shaw’s opinion was sought.

Our characteristically Shavian response was penned at the beginning of the decade leading up to World War II. Folded with some minor staining. In very good condition.

Shaw’s Two-Word Solution on How to Stop War

Signed by George Bernard Shaw

$385 • item #20851

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