2: WHY THE CRITICS ARE ALWAYS WRONG
Now it is these strokes of talent that set the critics wrong.
For the talent, being all expended on the formula, at least consecrates
the formula in the eyes of the critics. Nay, they become so accustomed
to the formula that at last they cannot relish or understand
a play that has grown naturally, just as they cannot admire the
Venus of Milo because she has neither a corset nor high heeled
shoes. They are like the peasants who are so accustomed to food
reeking with garlic that when food is served to them without
it they declare that it has no taste and is not food at all.
This is the explanation of the refusal of the critics of all
nations to accept great original dramatists like Ibsen and Brieux
as real dramatists, or their plays as real plays. No writer of
the first order needs the formula any more than a sound man needs
a crutch. In his simplist mood, when he is only seeking to amuse,
he does not manufacture a plot: he tells a story. He finds no
difficulty in setting people on the stage to talk and act in
an amusing, exciting or touching way. His characters have adventures
and ideas which are interesting in themselves, and need not be
fitted into the Chinese puzzle of a plot.
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essay was originally published by George
Bernard Shaw in his Preface to Three Plays by Brieux
(New York: Brentano's, 1911), pp. xxii-xxvii.