Author: George Bernard Shaw
Year I read it: 2009
One sentence summary: Best known as the source for My Fair Lady, Pygmalion tells the story of a flower shop-girl turned royalty by focusing on one specific divider of class: language.
Three reasons to read it:
- My Fair Lady. (Highly un-English-major-ly of me, I know)
- Shaw's remarks on class (and gender, while he's at it) are some of the best I've read; highly empathetic.
- Even in spite a tendency toward caricature, these characters are timeless!
One reason you maybe shouldn't:
- The ending is about as far from the musical as possible - which might be a drawback for some. [*SPOILER* - Eliza marries Freddie!!]
“I sold flowers. I didn't sell myself. Now you've made a lady of me I'm not fit to sell anything else.”
Pickering: Excuse the straight question, Higgins. Are you a man of good character where women are concerned?
Higgins [moodily]: Have you ever met a man of good character where women are concerned?
“You see, really and truly, apart from the things anyone can pick up (the dressing and the proper way of speaking, and so on), the difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she's treated. I shall always be a flower girl to Professor Higgins, because he always treats me as a flower girl, and always will; but I know I can be a lady to you, because you always treat me as a lady, and always will.”