cover image Bernard Shaw: 1856-1898: The Search for Love

Bernard Shaw: 1856-1898: The Search for Love

Michael Holroyd. Random House (NY), $30 (4pp) ISBN 978-0-394-57554-4

Shaw (1856-1950), long a socialist, in his later years built castles in air. Initially discounting the dangers of fascism, he championed Mussolini in the 1920s and idolized men of action, whether the Italian despot or heavyweight boxer Gene Tunney. He saw Hitler as a ``rascal,'' an adroit tactician, and wrote about Nazi concentration camps as if they were merely examples of overcrowding. Switching allegiance from Kerensky to Lenin, he glorified ``the gigantic Russian experiment,'' supported Stalin (whom he called ``a Georgian gentleman'') and made tours to spread ``the light of the Soviet Church.'' In the third and final volume of his definitive, engrossing biography, London-based Holroyd gives us a Shaw dangerously out of touch with reality. The playwright's guerrilla warfare against Hollywood moguls, his travels to Hindu temples and Japanese factories, his meetings with Einstein, Gandhi and Stanislavsky add interest to this portrait of a dramatist who lost his stage-worthiness, becoming again a versatile composer of verse-texts. BOMC and Reader's Subscription Book Club alternates. Photos. (Nov.)