Day #676: Life According to George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright, socialist, and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama. Over the course of his life he wrote more than 60 plays. Nearly all his plays address prevailing social problems, but each also includes a vein of comedy that makes their stark themes more palatable. In these works Shaw examined education, marriage, religion, government, health care, and class privilege.

He is the only person to have been awarded both a Nobel Prize for Literature (1925) and an Oscar (1938). The former for his contributions to literature and the latter for his work on the film “Pygmalion” (adaptation of his play of the same name). Shaw wanted to refuse his Nobel Prize outright, as he had no desire for public honours, but he accepted it at his wife’s behest. She considered it a tribute to Ireland. He did reject the monetary award, requesting it be used to finance translation of Swedish books to English.

Below are 10 of his most memorable quotes.

1.“Never wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.”

2.“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”

3.“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”

4.“You see things; you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say ‘Why not?”

5.“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

6.“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

7.“There are two tragedies in life. One is to lose your heart’s desire. The other is to gain it.”

8.“When two people are under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive, and most transient of passions, they are required to swear that they will remain in that excited, abnormal, and exhausting condition continuously until death do them part.”

9.“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.”

10. “A Native American elder once described his own inner struggles in this manner: Inside of me there are two dogs. One of the dogs is mean and evil. The other dog is good. The mean dog fights the good dog all the time. When asked which dog wins, he reflected for a moment and replied, The one I feed the most.”

 

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