Clive Bell Is a Fathead

by George Bernard Shaw, The New Republic, 21 February 1922

[In his article, The Creed of an Aesthete (in our issue of January 25th), Mr. Clive Bell said: “Mr. Bernard Shaw … is not an artist, much less an aesthete … he is a didactic.” He referred to Mr. Shaw’s rejection of the Darwinian theory because, by depriving Beauty, Intelligence, Honor of their divine origin and purpose, this theory deprives them of their value. To Mr. Bell’s mind, Mr. Shaw feels that “if Life be a mere purposeless accident, the finest things in it must appear to everyone worthless.” The sooner Mr. Shaw knows that this is not so, the better, says Mr. Bell, and proceeds to explain his own creed: “always life will be worth living by those who find in it things which make them feel to the limit of their capacity.” “The advantage of being an aesthete,” he declares, “is that one is able to appreciate the significance of all that comes to one through the senses: one feels things as ends instead of worrying about them as means. … Whatever is precious and beautiful in life is precious and beautiful irrespective of beginning and end.”]

As will be seen in the above article, my friend Clive Bell is a fathead and a voluptuary. This a very comfortable sort of person to be, and very friendly and easy and pleasant to talk to. Bell is a brainy man out of training. So much the better for his friends; for men in training are irritable, dangerous, and apt to hit harder than they know. No fear of that from Clive. The layer of fat on his brain makes him incapable of following up his own meaning; but it makes him good company.

Continue reading “Clive Bell Is a Fathead”