In a self-drafted interview published in the Pall Mall Budget to advertise the upcoming production of Arms and the Man at Florence Farr's Avenue Theater, Shaw explained that "[Arms and the Man] was nearly finished before I had settled on its locality. I wanted a war as a background. Now I am absolutely ignorant of history and geography; so I went about among my friends and asked if they knew of any wars. . . . At last Sidney Webb told me of the Servo-Bulgarian war, which was the thing. . . . So I looked up Bulgaria and Servia in an atlas, made all of the characters end in `off', and the play was complete."1 Shaw's words invite a reading of Arms and the Man's Bulgarian setting as nothing more than an `off' to the ends of the characters' names. Most critics seem to agree with Shaw, for the play's setting is rarely the focus of their attention.2 Whether the play succeeds or fails as an attack on romanticism is the question they typically favor. As a result, three major readings have dominated the scholarship about the play: that its characters "vindicate romanticism,"3 that the play "expresses
SHAW The Annual of Bernard Shaw Studies – Penn State University Press
Published: Sep 11, 2011
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