A good while ago now, Ken wrote a piece about reading Bernard Shaw - I meant at the time to reply, but had to wait until I could do some reading up. Namely, I wanted to respond to this comment:Shaw contributed next to nothing to the one revolution to which he could have given much. - by which I assume Ken means Ireland.
As it was, Shaw was a Home Ruler - as befitted everyone of progressive persuation at the time. He wrote a play, at the request of WB Yeats, in which he put forward his view of the matter - in 1904 - John Bull's Other Ireland.
Essentially, the story revolves around two Civil Engineers embarked to Ireland on a corporate development project. One - Broadbent - and English Liberal. the other - Doyle - an Irish ex-pat.
The crux of the story is Broadbent's Romantic view of Ireland, a laned which only exists as a dream and a fantasy for him. Doyle doesn't like Ireland, having had enough of dreams. As the story progresses Broadbent, acting the colonial buffoon, inveigles his way into Roscullen society - succeeding in becoming their Parliamentary member (or as good as when the play ends) and securing for himself a wife, in the form of Nora Reilly - the woman who has patiently and besottedly waited for Doyle for 18 years.
The play brings out the reactionary results of reforms - the Irish small hodlers wanting to protect their land and property from the Irish without land, the all powerful role of the Catholic clergy (and Broadbents effective sucking up to it in the name of freedom of conscience). The end, though, is Broadbent and Doyle revealing their plans for Roscullen, which will sweep these landholders (whom broadbent shall represent in Parliament) away in a huge business plan for a hotel and Golf-course. The buffonery shed, the realities of practical business taking over from the man who lost control of his car to a pig.
In essence, Shaw casts doubt upon the irish project, whilst simultaneously supporting it, engaging in his usual contrarian heterodxy. Although he has strayed out of his usual territory - the British Middle class drawing room, and so loses his edge of being an insider talking to the privileged.
I won't reamble on too long, I'm setting the scene to discuss his theoretical essay that accompanies it - specifically with reference to recent events in Europe. I'll stop for now with one observation on Art. Ken's Fall Revolution series was based on a hell-on-Earth premise, with characters (in some parts) adapting to a hopeless end of history. To show literature repeats itself, it's worth noting that the character in Shaw's play of the de-frocked priest Keegan holds just that view - based on sound empirical evidence of eternal torment and endless suffering, we must be in hell right now. More next week.