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英文解釈の思考プロセス 第196回


今回の題材は、2017年9月11日付の The New York Times 紙に掲載された、フィンタン・オトゥール 氏によるエッセイ、Why Grorge Bernard Shaw Had a Crush on Stalin   ”何故、ジョージ・バーナード・ショーはスターリンに心酔したのか” です。ロシア革命から100周年となる本年、そのロシア革命の歴史的意義を考察する The New York Times 紙に連載中の Red Century の一部です。全文の和訳はオリジナルの次にあります。


Why George Bernard Shaw Had a Crush on Stalin


Fintan O’Toole


Dublin — Shortly after midnight on Nov. 2, 1950, when the Cold War was well underway, all the illuminated signs on Broadway and Times Square were dimmed in salute to the most prominent Western admirer of Stalin. The Irish dramatist George Bernard Shaw had just died, and the tribute reflected the fame of plays such as “Pygmalion,” “Man and Superman” and “Saint Joan.”

But Shaw’s plays were nothing if not political, and few of his American admirers could have been in doubt that his politics included support for Communism in general and for Stalin in particular. That he was nonetheless honored in the United States is a reminder that the great divide of the Cold War was never as simple as it seemed. Beneath Shaw’s infatuation with Stalin, moreover, was a force that is still with us: a desire to see in Russia all the qualities that the Western democracies lack.

On the face of it, Shaw’s idolization of Stalin is a great puzzle. The man known around the world by his initials G.B.S. was not just a great playwright; he was arguably the single most influential public intellectual of the first half of the 20th century. At Shaw’s death, Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of independent India, said, “He was not only one of the greatest figures of his age, but one who influenced the thought of vast numbers of human beings during two generations.”

That influence could be summed up in one bracing imperative: the duty to be a skeptic. He challenged his readers and audiences to burst bubbles of conventional wisdom on almost every issue imaginable, from the rightful place of women to the pretensions of empires, from the glory of war to the treatment of animals, from homosexuality to children’s rights, from religious doctrine to the treatment of the poor. When Shaw’s demolitions of received ideas provoked outrage and obloquy, he courageously defended his intellectual independence. He abhorred cruelty and made mincemeat of propaganda.



George Bernard Shaw at home, on his death bed. Among the framed pictures on the mantelpiece is a portrait of Joseph Stalin. Credit Associated Press

And yet, he was devoted to one of the cruelest figures in the bloody annals of tyranny, and he was a willing dupe of the propaganda that projected the Soviet Union as a workers’ paradise. The great skeptic allowed all his skepticism to melt away when he looked at the picture of Stalin he kept by his mantelpiece.

His support was unwavering. Neither the Great Purge nor the Ukrainian famine, nor even the pact between Stalin and Hitler, seem to have troubled his faith in the genius and historic rectitude of the Soviet dictator. To understand this contradiction, we have to remember the power of wish fulfillment and the way Russia became for many Westerners not a place but an idea, not a mere reality but a fantasy.

In part, Shaw’s inability to challenge the myth of Stalin as a great friend of humanity can be explained by flattery. When he visited the Soviet Union in 1931 (accompanied by the American-born Conservative member of Parliament Nancy Astor), he was greeted in Moscow by a military guard of honor, banners emblazoned with his portrait and crowds crying, “Hail, Shaw!” An enormous banquet was held to celebrate Shaw’s 75th birthday. And Stalin himself granted Shaw a two-hour-long private audience at which his guest found the dictator in “charmingly good-humored” mood.

In part, too, Shaw’s insistence on seeing the Soviet Union as the harbinger of the great socialist utopia can be explained by the disappointments of democracy. He had fought for decades to establish universal adult suffrage, especially for women and the working class. Like many radical intellectuals, he was dismayed to find that many of these new voters preferred king-and-country conservatism to the socialism they were supposed to support. Especially as the Great Depression took hold, parliaments and political parties seemed utterly ineffectual. Stalin’s apparent ability to move mountains and transform society with triumphant five-year plans offered an antidote to his impatience with the frustrations of democracy.

But underlying all of this, there was an even stronger impulse: the fantasy of Russia itself. Long before the Bolshevik Revolution gave the dream a very particular political content, Shaw was primed to expect a global spiritual resurrection that would begin in Russia. This hope was not as fanciful as it may now seem: In the late 19th century, when Shaw’s political and artistic consciousness was being formed, Russian music, drama and literature were at the leading edge of modern Western culture. As he later wrote to Maxim Gorky, “I myself am as strongly susceptible as anyone to the fascination of the Russian character as expressed by its art and personally by its artists.”

The creation of G.B.S. owes almost as much to Russia as it does to Ireland or England. He learned much of his political style from anti-czarist exiles in London, especially the anarchist Peter Kropotkin and the nihilist Sergius Stepniak. Arguably Shaw’s greatest play, “Heartbreak House,” is subtitled “A Fantasia in the Russian Manner on English Themes” and was greatly influenced by Chekhov.

Above all, Shaw was caught up in the great wave of enthusiasm for Tolstoy that broke over the English-speaking world in the mid-1880s when “War and Peace,” “Anna Karenina” and most of his other works appeared in translation. Shaw called Tolstoy “the master.” His own insistence on the didactic purpose of art and his forging of a sage-like persona are pure Tolstoy.

This was not just a matter of artistic influence. Russia became, for Shaw, a kind of alternate universe, an imaginative field in which grandiosities that he would otherwise have delighted in puncturing were given free rein. He would have made devastating fun of anyone writing about “the Irish soul,” or “the English soul,” but he was happy to write without irony of “the soul of the Russian people.” When Kropotkin’s daughter told him that “the Russians would give the world back its lost soul,” Shaw did not scoff. Rather, as he wrote to Gorky, “I quite understand that; it is not at all ridiculous to me.”

It was, of course, Marx who wrote that everything in history happens twice, “the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.” There is something tragic in Shaw’s journey from Tolstoy to Stalin, from seeing Russia as the place to give the world back its lost soul to his eventual embrace of the Soviet project as “the only hope of the world.” But perhaps this same impulse is now with us — in full-on farcical mode.

Vladimir Putin is no Stalin, and the white nationalists around Donald Trump are certainly no Shaws. But some of the same impulse is still at work: the tendency to fantasize about Russia as the vigorous counterweight to a supposedly decadent West. There is the same impatience with the messiness and inefficiency of democracy, and it leads to the same crush on the strongman leader who can cut through the irrelevant natterings of parliaments and parties.

Shaw’s infatuation with Russia became a full-on love affair with a Soviet autocrat, whereas the Trump bromance with President Putin appears unconsummated. But they share a fatal attraction that both preceded and survived the Soviet Union: the allure of a faraway place where the great leader is obeyed because he embodies a people’s soul.

Fintan O’Toole (@fotoole) is a columnist for The Irish Times and the author, most recently, of “Judging Shaw.”

This is an essay in the series Red Century, about the history and legacy of Communism 100 years after the Russian Revolution.

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< 全文和訳例 >

ダブリン発 - 冷戦が粛々と進行中だった1950年11月2日の真夜中をやや回った時刻に、ブロードウェイとタイムズ・スクエアの全てのイルミネーションが、欧米で最も著明なスターリン崇拝者に敬意を表する為に消されました。アイルランド人の劇作家、ジョージ・バーナード・ショーが、死去したのです。この劇作家への賞賛の証としての消灯は、”ピグマリオン(Pygmalion)”、”人と超人(Man and Superman)”、”聖女ジョウン(Saint Joan)”等の戯曲が得た名声を反映していました。


一見すると、ショーがスターリンを崇拝したことは大いなる謎です。世界中にG.B.S. というイニシャルで知られていたショーは、単に偉大なる劇作家ではありませんでした;異論はあるにせよ、彼は20世紀前半において最も影響力を持つ知識人でした。ショーの死に際して、独立国家となったインドの初代首相、ジャワハルラル・ネルーは言いました、”彼はこの時代で最も偉大であっただけではなく、2世代に渡り莫大な数の人間の思想形成に影響力を与えた人物でもありました。”




ある意味で、ショーが最後までスターリンが人類の偉大なる味方であるとの作り話に疑問を抱くことが出来なかったのは、ソ連の媚び諂いにあると説明することが可能かも知れません。1931年、彼が(アメリカ生まれで保守党の下院議員、ナンシー・アスターと一緒に)ソヴィエト社会主義共和国連邦を訪問した際、モスクワでは儀仗兵、彼の写真をあしらった横断幕、そして ”ショー万歳!” との群衆の歓呼の声で迎えられました。彼の75歳の誕生日を祝福する壮大な晩餐会が催されました。そしスターリン自らショーに2時間に及ぶ謁見の機会を与え、同席したゲストによると、スターリンはこの上なく “上機嫌” であったそうです。



G.B.S. の創作活動の源泉は、アイルランド、あるいはイングランドと同程度にロシアでもあるのです。彼は、皇帝独裁に反対しロンドンに亡命していたロシア人、とりわけアナーキストのピョートル・クロポトキン、ニヒリストのセルゲイ・ステプニャクから多くの政治思想を学びました。異論はあるものの、彼の最高の戯曲である、”傷心の家(Heartbreak House)” は、”英国的主題をロシア風に描いた幻想劇” とのサブタイトルが付けられ、チェーコフから多大な影響を受けています。

とりわけショーは、1880年代の半ばに熱狂的なブームとなっていたトルストイに夢中になりました。その当時、 ”戦争と平和”、”アンナ・カレーニナ”、そして他の多くの作品の英語版が出版されました。ショーは、トルストイを “巨匠” と呼びました。ショー自身、芸術に政治的な意味を込め、賢人としての外観を纏うことにこだわったのは、トルストイからの影響に他なりませんでした。

これは単に芸術面での影響に止まりませんでした。ショーにとって、ロシアは一種のパラレルワールドとなり、そこでは壮大さが何らの制限を受けることなく存在しています。しかし、その壮大さがロシアの外に出ると、ショーはそれを直ちに哄笑していたのです。仮に、誰かが ”アイルランド人の魂(the Irish soul)、もしくは ”イングランド人の魂(the English soul)” について本でも書こうなら、ショーは心の底から嘲ったはずですが、”ロシア人の魂(the soul of Russian people)” に関しては、皮肉なしに書くことに喜びを見出しました。クロポトキンの娘がショーに、”ロシア人が失われた魂をこの世界に取り戻すはずです。” と述べた時、ショーはその発言を嘲ることはありませんでした。それどころか、彼は後にゴーリキーに書いた手紙の中で言いました、”私には彼女の言ったことがよく理解できます;それはなんら馬鹿げたことではありません。”

歴史においては、あらゆることが二度起きる、”最初は悲劇として、二度目は笑劇として”、と記したのはマルクスその人です。ロシアを失われた魂を世界に取り戻す場所とみなすことから、最終的にソ連による国家プロジェクト(5カ年経済計画等)を “世界にとって唯一の希望” と信奉したことに至る、トルストイからスターリンに辿りつくまでのショーの人生航路には、何か悲劇的なものを感じます。しかし、これと同じ衝動的心情が今や我々の身近にあるのです - 何から何まで - 笑劇として。



To be continued.