Monday, September 03, 2007

My Fair Lady


On the weekend I went to see a production of My Fair Lady put on by my brother-in-law's school (he did a great job as freddy). If you don't know the story it's about a professor of phonetics who teaches a poor cockney girl to speak English the way he thinks it should be, and passes her off as an aristocrat.


The musical is based on the play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw, which takes its title in turn from the myth of the sculptor Pygmalion, who made a sculpture so beautiful that he fell in love it (which should give you an idea of what happens in the musical). Here's how Ovid describes Pygmalion attempts to court his statue:


'...with marvellous artistry, he skillfully carved a snowy ivory statue. He made it lovelier than any woman born, and fell in love with his own creation... Often he ran his hands over the work, feeling it to see whether it was flesh or ivory, and would not yet admit that ivory was all it was. He kissed the statue, and imagined that it kissed him back, spoke to it and embraced it, and thought that he felt his fingers sink into the limbs he touched, so that he was afraid lest a bruise appear where he had pressed the flesh.


Sometimes he addressed it in flattering speeches, sometimes brought the kind of presents that girls enjoy: shells and polished pebbles, little birds and flowers of a thousand hues, lilies and painted balls, and drops of amber which fall from the trees that were once Phaeton's sisters. He dressed the limbs of his statue in woman's robes, and put rings on its fingers, long necklaces round its neck. Pearls hung from its ears, and chains were looped upon its breast. All this finery became the image well, but it was no less lovely unadorned.'


[Ovid, Metamorphoses X.247ff]

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Now all we need is to get you to see the Audrey Hepburn version, Mr M!

Mike Salter said...

'...with marvellous artistry, he skillfully carved a snowy ivory statue. He made it lovelier than any woman born, and fell in love with his own creation...'

Ah, you've left out my favourite phrase from that passage (one which is impossible to translate adequately):

"ars adeo latet arte sua".

jm said...

'one which is impossible to translate adequately'

yeah, that's why i left it out...

Anonymous said...

Yay, Audrey Hepburn!!! I have never actually heard of the play, but I'm sure it was just as good as the film, MoJo.