Bookcase Location: TOP SHELF – Essential
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Arms & the Man; George Bernard Shaw (theatrical play, 1894; published book 1898); basis for the 1908 operetta Chocolate Soldier (later made into silent film in 1915 & Broadway play 1947)
With apologies to all Como Agua para Chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate) fans, this play is a candidate for the single best work in which chocolate drives the central motive of the drama. The title from Virgil’s ‘of arms & the man I sing’, refers to a soldier at war who carries chocolate instead of a gun in his holster. Seeking refuge from the conflict, he marches into a rural farmhouse, encounters a rustic maiden, falls madly for her & she writes the note that seals the deal: ‘To my chocolate-cream soldier’.
Though it served as a vehicle for Brando’s last stage play in 1953, & Malkovich mounted another production of it in the ‘80s, Shaw considered it a light lacuna. At the premiere, he received the curtain call to a standing ovation. Amidst the cheers, someone in the audience booed. Shaw’s retort: “My dear fellow, I quite agree with you, but what are we two against so many?
Which makes him a kind of patron saint of sorts to the C-spot™ whose guiding insight on “the power of accurate observation” was later echoed by RFK in saying the sharpest criticism often goes hand-in-hand with idealism. Spoken like true quarrelsome Irishmen.