SHAW, George Bernard. Autograph manuscript of The Table Talk of G.B.S., comprising his answers to a series of questions compiled by Dr Archibald Henderson, n.p. [London], n.d. , the questions written in a different hand, and Shaw's answers, of varying length, written below them, 95 pages, 4°, in a brown morocco-backed cloth case. Provenance: Halsted Billings Vander Poel (1911-2003).
THE ORIGINAL COMPILATION OF SHAW'S FORCEFUL AND PITHILY EXPRESSED VIEWS ON VARIOUS SUBJECTS, including the First World War, world affairs, literature and drama, his own writing, and comparisons of British and American culture:
[Henderson]: 'To what extent did you support the British Government during the Great War?'
[Shaw]: 'I could do very little, because my weapon is the pen: and the pen cannot keep pace with war. The first thing I did was to throw all my work aside and spend two months studying the situation and its history before I launched Some Common Sense About the War. I had to find some sort of answer to the question what else could the Kaiser have done but what he did, hemmed in as he was?'
[Henderson]: 'Do you think it would be a good thing for the world if the U.S. were to join the League of Nations?'
[Shaw]: 'It would be a good thing for the League of Nations, which would be a somewhat less glaring imposture with the U.S, in it than it is with the U.S, out. But you have to remember that the U.S. is itself a League of Nations, and a much more genuine and psychologically homogeneous one than the Geneva makeshift'.
[Henderson]: 'Is the treatment of sex in Ulysses (Jas. Joyce) in the interest of public morals?'
[Shaw]: 'Is any treatment of sex in the interest of public morals? ... Ulysses is a document, the outcome of a passion for documentation that is as fundamental as the artistic passion ... the question is, is the document authentic? ... The Dublin "jackeens" of my day, the medical students, the young bloods about town, were very like that. Their conversation was dirty; and it defiled their sexuality ... I should like to organise the young men of Dublin into clubs for the purpose of reading Ulysses; so that they should debate the question "Are we like that?"... Get rid of the ribaldry that Joyce describes and dramatises and you get rid of Ulysses'.
Archibald Henderson (1877-1963), of the University of North Carolina, a mathematician who knew Einstein, was authorised by Shaw to write his biography. The present manuscript was published in 1925 as The Table Talk of G.B.S. Conversations on things in general between Bernard Shaw and his biographer. Shaw supplemented it with a number of his own self-answered questions and revised all the so-called 'dialogues' in proof (M. Holroyd. Bernard Shaw (London: 1991), v.III, p.219).