Friday, April 26, 2013

Pygmalion (1912)

Pygmalion. George Bernard Shaw. 1912. 96 pages.

Pygmalion is another book I read for the book to movie reading challenge. There is a lovely 1938 movie starring Leslie Howard and Wendy Hiller. If you've only seen Leslie Howard in Gone With The Wind, you should really make a point to see either Pygmalion OR The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934). Pygmalion was also the inspiration, of course, for the musical My Fair Lady starring Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn. Don't ask me to choose between Pygmalion and My Fair Lady. I happen to LOVE musicals, but Leslie Howard is oh-so-good in this one!!!

Pygmalion is certainly the inspiration for My Fair Lady. And I feel the musical stays, perhaps until the very end, true to the spirit of the original play. The songs fill in the gaps between the acts and scenes. The songs are quite expressive and provide insight on the individual characters. Through song, we learn more about what is going on in the house and about the months of training involved. On the other hand, in the book, there's a big gap between when Henry Higgins agrees to the experiment with Eliza Doolittle and her first outing. The first outing in the book is to Professor Higgins' mother's house. (The racing scene isn't in the original play.) Another big difference is that readers don't witness the big scene, the triumphant scene firsthand. Readers simply see the three returning home all dressed up. Readers hear the boasting and learn of the success after the fact. I really enjoyed the way My Fair Lady added to the original while keeping up the spirit.

Pygmalion is a short read, and it's also quite enjoyable!  

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Amanda 10:26 PM  

Oh I agree. I love both movies. Leslie Howard is also great as The Scarlet Pimpernell. I can't remember if I've read all the book or just some of it. I do remember how well they did at translating almost word for word to the big screen.

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