Wednesday, October 2, 2013

31 Days of Books: Pygmalion

Title: Pygmalion

Author:  George Bernard Shaw

Published:  1912

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!!]
  Great quote:

“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.”


  1. I still need to read this one too, another movie favorite. I actually picked it up at Barnes & Noble a while back I just haven't got around to reading it yet. :) Love these reviews by the way! So glad you're doing this!

  2. I read this play yesterday and absolutely loved it! The ending is immeasurably better than My Fair Lady's! As much as I love My Fair Lady for its songs and for Audrey Hepburn I've always hated the fact that Eliza goes back to that misogynistic bully Higgins. So when Eliza basically told Higgins to, er, eff cough, and walked out on him I thought it was just glorious!