Bernard Shaw Quote [UPDATE!]

NCFCA Feb 21, 2010


My friend and research-extraordinaire, Nathan, managed to unearth the original Shaw article and post it on Scribd.

By way of caution, the subject under discussion is public decency in the arts, specifically as it relates to nudes. If that’s not a discussion you wish to be part of, you may want to steer clear of the link.

Click here to read the article. (The quote is in paragraph 8)

Here is the quote in context:

Having now got rid of the Art question, and pulled Mr Coote out of that morass on to solid ground, I am almost tempted to begin by exhorting him to go to his Bible, and ponder the saying, “He which is filthy, let him be filthy still.” [Rev. 22:11 -DK] But no public man in these islands ever believes that the Bible means what it says: he is always convinced that it says what he means; and I have no reason to hope that Mr Coote may be an exception to the rule.

A few quick observations:

1. Yes, the NCFCA quote is wrong, but it’s not the NCFCA’s fault. It was even wrong in the Bernard Shaw quote book.

2. Bernard Shaw does not say “no man” (meaning nobody) but rather “no public man in these islands”. The intended recipient is a much smaller group than the original quote suggests.

3. The context of the quote is not what some would consider “family friendly”. Anytime we’re discussing issues of cultural engagement, we must use wisdom and discretion.

4. No matter how long we stare at something, there is always a new discovery to be found by the diligent.


I’m sure this has been discussed ad nauseum in some other forum, but I just stumbled across it today, so here you go.

I was working through the NCFCA apologetics questions, particularly Cat. 1, SA 1, “No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says; he is always convince that it say what he means.”

Sadly, this misquotes Mr. Shaw. I found the quote in the book, Not Bloody Likely with a proper source citation (fourth quote down):

This quote was originally published in an essay, The Living Pictures, on April 6th, 1895 in the London magazine, Saturday Review. Of course, this reference points to a reprint in Bernard Shaw: The Drama Observed –a collection of Shaw’s writing put together under the editorship of Bernard F. Dukore.

So far, I haven’t found a full text of Shaw’s original article online (it’s probably still protected under copyright laws). But if I find a legally free copy, I’ll post a link for you all.

Happy studying!

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