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John Bull's Other Island

Bernard Shaw

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Book Excerpt: 
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DOYLE. A girl with a dowry of five pounds calls it a fortune in Rosscullen. What's more 40 pounds a year IS a fortune there; and Nora Reilly enjoys a good deal of social consideration as an heiress on the strength of it. It has helped my father's household through many a tight place. My father was her father's agent. She came on a visit to us when he died, and has lived with us ever since.

BROADBENT [attentively, beginning to suspect Larry of misconduct with Nora, and resolving to get to the bottom of it]. Since when? I mean how old were you when she came?

DOYLE. I was seventeen. So was she: if she'd been older she'd have had more sense than to stay with us. We were together for 18 months before I went up to Dublin to study. When I went home for Christmas and Easter, she was there: I suppose it used to be something of an event for her, though of course I never thought of that then.

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Community Reviews

I'm not really in love with this. As a play, loose and unformed; as a set of political opinions, Shaw seems to be manifesting that tendency towards what this play will call "efficiency," and what later on will seem to develop into his late-career taste for something like fascism. I don't know that i

This, of course, after Pygmalion, is one of the unsurpassed plays George Barnard Shaw has jotted down. You actually roll off your bed whilst reading this tongue-in-cheek humor, quite very waggish. About Ireland, seemingly, this play spoofs English Imperialism. Exceptionally well-written, I’d like to

A superb satire on the mutual regard between the Irish and the English about 120 years ago. Plenty here to make both parties angry. Shaw's three prefaces set out some complementary history.

Shaw wrote the third preface after the Irish had won home rule, and it is an incisive and grim summary of how I

Read this for school

Seems to portray the typical well-fed liberal Englishman in his quest to make common ground with a people who have endured hardships beyond his understanding and are split between humouring him good-naturedly or rebelling against the insidious form of British influence he represents. It seems endles

This is one of only two plays that Shaw set in his native Ireland, and it satirizes the romantic stereotypes of the Irish people and culture, as well as the English sense of superiority. Although seldom staged nowadays, it seems curiously relevant for today’s political climate in its portrayal of a


This pre-WW1 play about the Anglo-Irish relationship is less dated than some of Shaw's other plays, perhaps because the situation it portrays lasted for so long. While there were some funny scenes, overall it struck me as a bitter play. Perhaps I would like it more if I could see a performance.

In the second edition to this book, Shaw writes a new preface in commemoration of the then assured prospect of Home Rule being on the horizon. He disparages his original preface, calling it an example of how quickly political writing dates. As if to prove his point, a mere four years after the publi


I want to say I like this play but unfortunately...I did not enjoy it as much as I thought I would even though Bernard Shaw wrote it. I can appreciate the irony and sarcasm of the characters, especially when they talk about Ireland, Irish people, migration and the current state of the country; h

I read this in my Irish Drama class my senior year of college, and was blown away. John Bull's Other Island is the only play Shaw wrote about Ireland, and he comes at it with a fascinating perspective. Powerful, intense, and as detailed as any of Shaw's work.

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