Pygmalion opened in London in 1914 but took almost a decade to reach Paris, where it premiered in 1923. During that interim, Shaw and his French translator Augustin Hamon exchanged countless cross-Channel letters and debated how to translate the play and adapt it to a foreign sociocultural milieu. “Pygmalion has never failed,” Shaw boasted to him in 1919. Yet despite their combined efforts at fine-tuning the play to suit the French temperament, it did. While Hamon blamed the Théâtre des Arts manager and what he called a “cabal” of French critics, Shaw blamed Pauline Pax (Eliza), the “tomfoolery and vulgarity” of the production (photos of which he found “appalling”), and “the cretinous imbecile who produced the play.” “If theatrical people persist in regarding the play as a love affair between Higgins and Eliza,” he told Hamon, “they deserve all they get in the way of failure.”

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