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Man and Superman (eBook)

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George Bernard Shaw was born in Dublin in 1856. Before becoming a playwright he wrote music and literary criticism. Shaw used his writing to attack social problems such as education, marriage, religion, government, health care, and class privilege. Shaw was particularly conscious of the exploitation of the working class. Since a botched operation on his foot, Shaw had litt George Bernard Shaw was born in Dublin in 1856. Before becoming a playwright he wrote music and literary criticism. Shaw used his writing to attack social problems such as education, marriage, religion, government, health care, and class privilege. Shaw was particularly conscious of the exploitation of the working class. Since a botched operation on his foot, Shaw had little respect for the majority of doctors. Man and Superman is a tragic comic play in which the pursuit of woman by man is reversed, and Don Juan becomes the quarry instead of the huntsman. On a higher level the author introduces his concept of a life force that seeks to raise mankind to a better and higher existence.


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George Bernard Shaw was born in Dublin in 1856. Before becoming a playwright he wrote music and literary criticism. Shaw used his writing to attack social problems such as education, marriage, religion, government, health care, and class privilege. Shaw was particularly conscious of the exploitation of the working class. Since a botched operation on his foot, Shaw had litt George Bernard Shaw was born in Dublin in 1856. Before becoming a playwright he wrote music and literary criticism. Shaw used his writing to attack social problems such as education, marriage, religion, government, health care, and class privilege. Shaw was particularly conscious of the exploitation of the working class. Since a botched operation on his foot, Shaw had little respect for the majority of doctors. Man and Superman is a tragic comic play in which the pursuit of woman by man is reversed, and Don Juan becomes the quarry instead of the huntsman. On a higher level the author introduces his concept of a life force that seeks to raise mankind to a better and higher existence.

30 review for Man and Superman (eBook)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    It's Nobel Revisit Month (it is a very small one-woman festival, so don't worry if you have never heard of it!), and "Man And Superman" is on the schedule, because I need to laugh a bit. I must have been laughing when I took notes on the treatise/reflection/play or whatever else it is, because I can hardly read my handwriting. Well, some people would now claim that it is never possible to read it, and that I should finally give up my cursive, but usually I myself know what I mean. Luckily, Shaw ex It's Nobel Revisit Month (it is a very small one-woman festival, so don't worry if you have never heard of it!), and "Man And Superman" is on the schedule, because I need to laugh a bit. I must have been laughing when I took notes on the treatise/reflection/play or whatever else it is, because I can hardly read my handwriting. Well, some people would now claim that it is never possible to read it, and that I should finally give up my cursive, but usually I myself know what I mean. Luckily, Shaw explains what HE means with this strange little book in the beginning, otherwise it would be easy to get lost somewhere in the beginning, middle or end: "Fortunately for us [he means all of us lovely goodreaders!], whose minds have been so overwhelmingly sophisticated by literature, what produces all these treatises, and poems and scriptures of one sort or another is the struggle of life to become divinely conscious of itself instead of blindly stumbling hither and thither in the line of least resistance [he is NOT talking about my handwriting!]." So that is the mission on which he sets out, - to make the struggle of life divinely conscious - and he handles it with quite a lot of elegance, while lashing out at his preferred enemies at the same time, holding up a mirror for people to see the uncomfortable truth of the illogical behaviour we are all mastering. I was drawn back to this book because of its reflections on heaven and hell, and namely Dante and Milton. As I have a predilection for authors discussing other authors, I found Shaw's ideas on these giants of literature hilarious. Act three in the play/treatise is mostly concerned with the illogical beliefs connected with heaven and hell, and features an unforgettable dialogue where the devil justifies himself, referring to the bad publicity he has received: "Hell is a place far above their comprehension: they derive their notion of it from two of the greatest fools that ever lived, an Italian and an Englishman. The Italian described it as a place of mud, frost, filth, fire, and venomous serpents: all torture. This ass, when he was not lying about me, was maundering about some woman whom he saw once in the street. The Englishman described me as being expelled from Heaven by cannons and gunpowder; and to this day every Briton believes that the whole of his silly story is in the Bible. What else he says I do not know; for it is all in a long poem which neither I nor anyone else ever succeeded in wading through." I just love his irreverent comment about Milton. Shaw, I am quite sure, had read him more than once, as his devil is a great reincarnation of Milton's furious individualist shouting: "Better reign in Hell than serve in Heaven!" And as for Dante himself, he didn't manage to depict Heaven as an appealing place either, and Shaw offers the explanation in this brilliantly funny dialogue: "ANA. Can anybody—can I go to Heaven if I want to? THE DEVIL. [rather contemptuously] Certainly, if your taste lies that way. ANA. But why doesn't everybody go to Heaven, then? THE STATUE. [chuckling] I can tell you that, my dear. It's because heaven is the most angelically dull place in all creation: that's why." It takes a "divinely conscious" author of Shaw's intellect to make fun of those two giants of literature while showing his deeply rooted respect for them. And he would be a lovely example in the essay I am not going to write about authors quoting Dante's The Divine Comedy. I do think that I still like Pygmalion best of Shaw's oeuvre so far, but it is hardly possible to find a reflection on human brilliance and folly that is equally light-hearted and deep, witty and serious. Shaw deserved his Nobel Prize! And the curtain of his play falls to the stage direction: "Universal Laughter."

  2. 4 out of 5

    David Sarkies

    Shaw's first attempt to explore the concept of evolution 23 June 2012 We admit that when the divinity we worshipped made itself visible and comprehensible, we crucified it. This phrase above, which appears in the epilogue, pretty much sums up the theme of the entire play, and that is that it is impossible for man to evolve simply because we do not want to evolve, and everytime somebody comes along to show us how to evolve we either kill them, or completely corrupt their teachings so as to bring us Shaw's first attempt to explore the concept of evolution 23 June 2012 We admit that when the divinity we worshipped made itself visible and comprehensible, we crucified it. This phrase above, which appears in the epilogue, pretty much sums up the theme of the entire play, and that is that it is impossible for man to evolve simply because we do not want to evolve, and everytime somebody comes along to show us how to evolve we either kill them, or completely corrupt their teachings so as to bring us back to the position that we were in prior to this person coming along. I will discuss examples of this later on in this commentary (which will actually be quite long because there is quite a lot in this play) and I will also how Shaw's philosophy, as I see it, applies to the teachings of the Bible. One of the things that I really like about Shaw's plays is that he begins a lot of them with a commentary on the play, thus (unlike many other authors) he will actually tells us what he intends to demonstrate in the play in these commentaries. In some cases he also has a epilogue at the end (as he does in this one) which ties up all of the ideas that he has explored and outlines his conclusions. Now, this is one of Shaw's earlier plays so we see more immature thought and insight into his philosophy here, and in fact the play, while playing an important role in his philosophy, is only a part of the bigger picture, which only comes out at the end. His opening (or dare I call is a prologue) is a letter to a fellow named Arthur Walkely (I am unsure if this person existed or not, but I will assume that he does, and the main reason I say this is because his conclusion is a 'handbook' written by the play's protagonist) and he appears to be about writing a Don Juan play. Now, we have probably all heard of Don Juan and how he attacked windmills (actually I think that is Don Quioxte), but that is not the purpose of the play or the character. Shaw indicates that Don Juan was originally conceived by a monk who wanted to write a story about the futility of putting off one's salvation. The idea was that Don Juan rejected the church, wanting instead to live a wild life, and then become Christian later on in life when he is no longer old enough to have fun. However he does not get to live to an old age as he dies young, and in sin. While the story was supposed to be a warning, it had the opposite effect in that the story was not received as a warning but as the romaticised idea of a rebellious hero, one that everybody wanted to be, but did not have the courage to do so for fear of going to hell. Much of the letter involves sexuality and sexual coupling and one may wonder what this has to do with evolution, but this will be explained later as we move through the play. He discusses how the modern theatre of his day explored sexual attraction, but only to a certain point. Victorian England saw itself as civilised and above these base ideas of sexual pleasure. It was not a concept of lust but a concept of romantic love, and unfortunately sex does not play a part in Victorian romantic love (it is too disgusting). He explores the impossibility of writing such a play in this era as ideas have changed, but in many cases nothing has actually changed. He points out that in Shakespeare pretty much all of the lovers are naturally lovers and no pushing needs to occur to bring them together, however it is still done so as to add depth to the play. The only play in which a character goes out to win a wife is in The Taming of the Shrew, in which Petrucchio pursues Katerina, however there is no love involved in this, rather it is purely a commercial choice, and if it was not for the fact that Katerina had money, then Petruchio would not have been interested. Unrequited love, as he explored in Shakespeare, is dangerous and leads to madness, as he points out in Hamlet. It is natural for Ophelia and Hamlet to come together and couple, there is that natural attraction there, however, ignoring the intrusion by Polonius, Hamlet rebuff's Ophelia's advances, and continues to do so with tragic consequences (namely her suicide). We must remember that at this stage Hamlet was feigning madness to learn if Claudius really is a murderer, and while he may have loved Ophelia, he did not trust her, and as such did not bring her into his plans. Thus Ophelia sees a man whom she loves descending into madness, and in turn she herself also descends into madness. This unrequited love ends very badly as the action moves pretty much straight from the funeral to the throne room, which results in a fencing match in which everybody dies. Now, remembering that this is a play about the philosophy of evolution, I will continue exploring Shaw's ideas as I encountered them in this book. As we know England at this time was undergoing a period of great change. The industrial revolution was behind them and through pressure many reforms to the social network had been made including universal education and the universal male voting franchise. However Shaw is concerned as to whether this would actually raise the working class and the poor into the bourgeoisie. He says that it does not and in fact it dilutes the voting power by giving it to people that have no understanding of the nature of government and governing a country. In fact he does not seem to believe that it is possible to raise such a person out of their class, not due to the lack of mobility, but rather due to a lack of willpower to actually want to move out of that class. I disagree as John Wesley had proven otherwise in that when he established his church he went out among the poor and the dispossessed and preached to them, and built a church from them. Within at least one generation it was discovered that the poor were no longer poor and had entered the middle class. Mind you, during this time the theatre was still portrayed the wealthy as the upper class elite as the main characters while the poor were portrayed as comical and ignorant. This has always been the case, and in many ways, still is the case today. As a side note, Shaw also discusses what he considers a good writer and what he doesn't. Dickens and Shakespeare, as far as he is concerned, are not good writers as they have no overarching philosophy which they explore, while others, such as Shelly, Goethe, Nietzsche, Blake, Bunyan, and Tolstoy, do, and he would prefer to be influenced by somebody who has a philosophy rather than somebody who does not. I agree with him to an extent on this, but I feel that because we know so little about Shakespeare as a person, as opposed to Shakespeare the legend, I feel that it is not possible to comment on his philosophy or not. Now, I should get onto the play, and as he indicates at the opening to the play, it is a philosophy and a comedy. The first part of the play is very difficult to follow, but once we get to act three, everything begins to come to light. In a way this is a romantic comedy, but he indicates at the beginning is that it is not the man who initiates the romantic relationship, but the woman. While it is traditional for the man to approach the woman, it is the woman who has the power to say yes or no. One quote of his, in relation to polygamy, is that a woman would rather have a tenth of a first rate man than a whole of a third rate man. We see this in the play with Ann because at the beginning of the play it is implied that her relationship will form with Octavian, however we suddenly discover at the end that this was never her intention, and it was Tanner that she wanted, and while he resists, she continues to push and persist until he capitulates. Shaw uses the concept of a play within a play in Man and Superman, in a sense because by moving the main philosophy out of the immediate play, he takes it out of his mouth and puts in into the mouth of the protagonist, Tanner. He does the same at the end where the handbook is written not by himself but by Tanner, and he even uses the idea of a socialist meeting to push through the idea of Tanner's revolutionary nature. The play within a play could be termed as 'The Devil and Don Juan' or 'Don Juan in Hell'. The characters in the main play also take roles in this play, and we see a continual movement in action from the home to Spain, to the play within a play, and out again. Shaw's concept of hell, as outlined in the play, is that while it is a place for those who reject God, it is not necessarily bad. Don Juan, who never wanted to go to hell in the first play, suffers, however Ann, who had resigned herself to being a denizen of hell, does not. They ask about the gulf, and Shaw (as taken up by Lewis later) indicates that the idea of the gulf is a parable, and that the gulf exists not in reality but in our mind. While it is possible to move between heaven and hell, and to connect with the denizens of hell, it is the mindset of the denizens that create the gap. He uses the example of the philosophy class and the bull ring, or the concert hall and the race track. People who go to one, do not go to the other, and if they do, they dislike it intensely and want to escape. Therefore, in their mind, they create a gulf, and to be trapped in the place where their mind is not set creates for them a hell. While people have written about hell, Shaw indicates the impossibility of actually truly understanding its nature, as he writes 'the Italian described it as a place of mud, frost, filth, fire … this ass, when he was not lying about me (the devil is speaking) was maundering about some woman whom he saw once in the street. The Englishman described me as being expelled from Heaven by cannons and gunpowder; and to this day every Briton thinks this jolly story is in the Bible'. Now, I have written quite a lot so far and I still have not got to the main theme of evolution. Now, when we speak of evolution we are not talking about a physical process that moves us from an ape (if we believe that) to our current form. Nietzsche was not talking about that either, and Hitler's idea that the German people were more highly evolved was taking Nietzsche completely out of context. The problem with Nietzsche though was that he was insane. It seemed that the idea of the superman, and the fact that he could never attain that ideal was too much for him. Fortunately Shaw is very compus mentus, and unlike Nietzsche, is easy to read. The idea is that we do not evolve physically but rather socially and spiritually. Unfortunately we do not want to evolve that way, we want to become like the X-men, namely superheroes. However this is not the Shaw's (and Nietzsche's) idea of evolution. It appears that Shaw's idea is that the first step towards us becoming further evolved, is to shed these ridiculous ideas of civilisation. The fact that we have telephones, motor cars, planes, televisions (and the list goes on) does not necessarily mean that we have become evolved, in fact it is quite the opposite. As Shaw says, the gentleman relies on his servants more than the servants rely upon the gentleman. Our pursuit of wealth and luxury has not made us more evolved, but rather more dependant on our current lifestyle (as is evidenced by 'Lifestyle Packages' offered by insurance companies, so that wealthy people can maintain their lifestyle in the event of a tragedy). It is much easier to go from being poor to being rich than the other way around (and just look at the number of suicides that occur whenever there is a massive economic downturn). As I indicated at the beginning, the reason we are not evolving is because we do not want to evolve. Take the idea of coupling again and how Shaw indicates that it is not the man's choice but the woman's. The man puts himself out to stud and the woman says either yes or no. However, you have probably heard the saying 'nice guys finish last' and that women would prefer a jerk than a decent guy. Look, I am not saying that it is true (there are a lot of nice married guys out there), but if the case is that bad men get the girls while the good men miss out, then is it not the case that the decent, evolved, people are dying out to pretty much be replaced by jerks. Let us also consider what happens whenever somebody comes along to try to move us towards evolving. Basically it is human nature to silence anybody who preaches a message of evolution that does not involve us becoming powerful beings, but rather evolving by becoming more socially orientated and ethical beings. The classic case is Jesus Christ: he was crucified (though biblically that was always going to happen, and while he died, he rose again from the dead). Other examples include Martin Luther King, who was heavily involved in the civil rights movement, but the idea of treating people as equals was repugnant. Let us also consider a movement towards socialism. It is rejected and attacked at every turn, and not just in the United States. Take Russia for example. Russia was supposed to be turned into a 'worker's democracy' however the pure ideal never even had the option to bud before the seed was destroyed by Stalin. This is the same with the church, for Christ's moving humanity to evolve was first viciously attacked by the Roman State, and when that failed, the church was infiltrated and taken back full circle to where it begun. I suspect this idea is biblical, and remember Shaw nowhere in this play attacks the teachings of Christ or the Bible, but rather the way humanity teaches from the Bible. The concept of the Bible is that human">ity was created perfect, but something happened that caused us to degenerate. Thus the entire Bible (or at least the first part) demonstrates the downward spiral of degeneration (spiritual and social) that we have been afflicted with. The second part is not only a biography of Jesus Christ, but also an indication of how we can cease that degeneration, and then move back onto the path of evolution, however we cannot do it on our own, we need God's help (and that is where Christ came in, and why he died) to cease degenerating and to return to the path of evolution. I recently saw a production of this play by the National Theatre and have written some further thoughts on the play on my blog.

  3. 5 out of 5

    J.G. Keely

    Shaw has two distinct classes of follower: there are those who enjoy his vivid characters and humor, and those who idolize him as a revolutionary spiritual force. Each appreciates a different side of Shaw's character, and each of his plays presents a struggle between his creative instinct and his revolutionary ambitions. His need to play the iconoclast was not limited to his socialism, his vegetarianism, and his contempt for medicine. Shaw was never afraid to adopt unpopular ideas, especially whe Shaw has two distinct classes of follower: there are those who enjoy his vivid characters and humor, and those who idolize him as a revolutionary spiritual force. Each appreciates a different side of Shaw's character, and each of his plays presents a struggle between his creative instinct and his revolutionary ambitions. His need to play the iconoclast was not limited to his socialism, his vegetarianism, and his contempt for medicine. Shaw was never afraid to adopt unpopular ideas, especially when they were novel and contentious. Yet, for as hard as he fought for new ideas, he often undermined them with slights and satire. Those who believe in Shaw the prophet tend to ignore these subversions, or to chalk them up to playful sardonicism, but Shaw's constant doubts are not so easy to ignore, if one strains a bit to listen over the vehement philosophical outbursts which surround them. Man and Superman represents perhaps the finest balance between his two extremes, neither overpowering the other. In this achievement he comes his closest to the style of Shakespeare, whom he idolized and often compared himself to in predictably favorable terms. He once rewrote the third act of 'Cymbeline', which has been attributed partially to Shakespeare, excepting the messy third act, which was likely finished by an unknown playwright. In his preface, Shaw states with confidence that his childhood love of Shakespeare allowed him to recreate the Bard's voice and style perfectly; an assertion only Shaw's apostles fail to smirk at. Like most authors, Shaw is not at his best when confirming his own superiority, which is one reason 'Man and Superman' retains its appeal. He finds many opportunities to place his pet ideas in the mouth of his author surrogate, but doesn't make the character either infallible or sympathetic. His long diatribes, though impassioned, are rarely successful, and usually end in confusion or self-deprecation. Shakespeare always allows us to try on this or that idea, without coming out overwhelmingly for one side or the other. Shaw usually misses this trick, growing too one-sided or losing his argument altogether between the busyness of his various allegories, symbols, satires, jokes, romantic cliches, and existential realism. 'Man and Superman' is still very complex, relying on lengthy debates, idiomatically overwrought scene descriptions, coincidences that encourage disbelief, and an extended allegorical dream sequence (which is usually left out, reducing both production costs and pretension); but for once, Shaw is mostly able to maintain the elaborate balance between elements. His author surrogate will be familiar to any Shaw reader, as are his other characters. Drawn from his familiar pool, we have the impassioned young political philosopher, the hypocritical romantic, the woman defined purely by her 'strength', the woman who knowingly takes advantage of the relationship between sex and money, the always 'bullet headed' capitalist, the conservative and blustery father, the clever mother who fails to control her daughter, and the rebellious servant. He also reuses the same double marriage plot that tends to undermine his oft-asserted loathing of Romanticism. Between the repetition of character archetypes, ideas, and plot, Shaw's society plays can feel more like drafts than distinct visions. They differ chiefly in who wins which arguments, and whether or not the marriages are ultimately engaged. In structure and satire, 'Mrs. Warren's Profession' is a stronger draft in terms of character, but 'Man and Superman' takes the prize for ideas explored, in both number and depth. 'Candida' presents a more dynamic presentation of the conflict between the philosopher and the hypocrite, but shares with 'Man and Superman' a rushed and unsure climax. Both rely on a debate of competing philosophies to move the plot along ('Candida' being starker in that regard), and both are ultimately content to leave the clash of ideas behind, instead resolving with the spiritual sentimentalism of a pretentious romance. Another author might have used such an ending to show that in the end, thought must give way to action, and rarely gracefully. Instead, Shaw takes a common and disappointing stance: when his numerous ideas and faculty for reason eventually run out of steam, he personifies his ignorance in a grandiose phrase ('Life Force'), closes his eyes reverently, and declares profundity achieved. It is the unremarkable endgame of every self-declared prophet, and is a good enough trick to impress those who are as desperate to feel important as they are to avoid the work necessary to become so. Again, Shaw makes the one mistake which will always separate him from Shakespeare: overcommitment. Though he maintains balance and subtlety through much of the narrative, he loses his control at the moment of conclusion, undermining all the hard work that led up to it, and proves once again that he is peerless in at least one regard: he has no enemy as great as himself.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    I feel I should qualify this 4-star rating: it's based more on the results of reading the book than on my enjoyment of the book itself. Shaw is a hell of an intellect and a delightfully acerbic critic of society, and there are several trenchant observations and commentaries in Man and Superman. However, when he veers toward -- for example -- an argument for state-sponsored eugenics, it gets kind of appalling. If I were to rate the book solely on agreement with his propositions, it'd be a lower s I feel I should qualify this 4-star rating: it's based more on the results of reading the book than on my enjoyment of the book itself. Shaw is a hell of an intellect and a delightfully acerbic critic of society, and there are several trenchant observations and commentaries in Man and Superman. However, when he veers toward -- for example -- an argument for state-sponsored eugenics, it gets kind of appalling. If I were to rate the book solely on agreement with his propositions, it'd be a lower score due to the mixed bag: Shaw's keener observations are rather undermined by his apparent belief in the utility of eugenics as well as by his sourer cynicism. At one moment he exhibits concern for the well-being of all people and admirably progressive opinions against capital punishment; at another he expresses sharp disdain for the common fellow or "riffraff." Consensus notwithstanding, the book had me thinking in overdrive. I was repeatedly moved to scribble down quotes and ideas and rebuttals, more so than most books inspire. That definitely counts for something.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bruce

    If only this play were done as a comic book... it would still really, really, really suck (but then, you never know about the quality of the artwork). This book was so bad that I stopped reading it halfway through Act III, near about line 360. In fact, right after this passage, which I pick up toward the end of a one and one-half page-long ramble that some sad sack actor will be expected to recite from memory:THE DEVIL. I could give you a thousand instances; but they all come to the same thing: t If only this play were done as a comic book... it would still really, really, really suck (but then, you never know about the quality of the artwork). This book was so bad that I stopped reading it halfway through Act III, near about line 360. In fact, right after this passage, which I pick up toward the end of a one and one-half page-long ramble that some sad sack actor will be expected to recite from memory:THE DEVIL. I could give you a thousand instances; but they all come to the same thing: the power that governs the earth is not the power of Life but of Death; and the inner need that has nerved Life to the effort of organising itself into the human being is not the need for higher life but for a more efficient engine of destruction. The plague, the famine, the earthquake, the tempest were too spasmodic in their action; the tiger and crocodile were too easily satiated and not cruel enough: something more constantly, more ruthlessly, more ingeniously destructive was needed; and that something was Man, the inventor of the rack, the stake, the gallows, the electric chair; of sword and gun and poison gas: above all, of justice, duty, patriotism, and all the other isms by which even those who are clever enough to be humanely disposed are persuaded to become the most destructive of all the destroyers. DON JUAN. Pshaw! all this is old. Your weak side, my diabolic friend, is that you have always been a gull: you take Man at his own valuation. Nothing would flatter him more than your opinion of him. He loves to think of himself as bold and bad. He is neither one nor the other: he is only a coward. Call him tyrant, murderer, pirate, bully; and he will adore you, and swagger about with the consciousness of having the blood of the old sea kings in his veins. Call him liar and thief; and he will only take an action against you for libel. But call him coward; and he will go mad with rage: he will face death to outface that stinging truth. Man gives every reason for his conduct save one, every excuse for his crimes save one, every plea for his safety save one; and that one is his cowardice. Yet all his civilization is founded on his cowardice, on his abject tameness, which he calls his respectability. There are limits to what a mule or an ass will stand; but Man will suffer himself to be degraded until his vileness becomes so loathsome to his oppressors that they themselves are forced to reform it. THE DEVIL. Precisely. And these are the creatures in whom you discover what you call a Life Force! DON JUAN. Yes... you can make any of these cowards brave by simply putting an idea into his head. THE STATUE. Stuff! As an old soldier I admit the cowardice: it’s as universal as sea sickness, and matters just as little. But that about putting an idea into a man’s head is stuff and nonsense. In a battle all you need to make you fight is a little hot blood and the knowledge that it’s more dangerous to lose than to win. Blah, blah, blah... and Shaw's starting point for this drivel was to differentiate and mock Dante's and Milton's respective visions of Heaven and Hell. Why I could not tell you... it has seemingly little to do with Shaw's explicitly stated purpose of writing a story around a Nietzchean ubermensch (as defined by Shaw, that's anyone -- but usually a man -- whose sociopathic amorality makes it possible to achieve greatness)... and I should add that Shaw's "Don Juan" here does not really seem to fit those qualities nor to really behave consistently or intelligently. One last complaint -- Shaw seems less to have written this for performance than for an imagined literary posterity. (Apparently successfully, alas.) The play is bracketed by a lengthy explanation/apologia and an equally rambling socialist manifesto ostensibly penned by one of the play's characters (and thus hyped by the play's stage action), which might suggest that the author was at least somewhat aware that his work could not stand on its own merits. Add to that ludicrous stage directions/commentary like this which opens Act III: We may therefore contemplate the tramps of the Sierra without prejudice, admitting cheerfully that our objects—briefly, to be gentlemen of fortune—are much the same as theirs, and the difference in our position and methods merely accidental. One or two of them, perhaps, it would be wiser to kill without malice in a friendly and frank manner; for there are bipeds, just as there are quadrupeds, who are too dangerous to be left unchained and unmuzzled; and these cannot fairly expect to have other men’s lives wasted in the work of watching them. But as society has not the courage to kill them, and, when it catches them, simply wreaks on them some superstitious expiatory rites of torture and degradation, and then lets them loose with heightened qualifications for mischief, it is just as well that they are at large in the Sierra, and in the hands of a chief who looks as if he might possibly, on provocation, order them to be shot. Just you try being the director staging that nonsense. Sure, you could parse this book for "ideas," and find in it morsels to fuel various sides of various social or religious debates. Of course, you could accomplish as much by randomly pulling paragraphs off the internet. The profundity to which your source material is put is not a guaranteed reflection on the quality of the source material. So by all means, spare yourself now.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    Look, there are three awesome acts in this and then there's that whole thing in the middle where Don Juan argues with the devil. Is the rest of the play just an excuse for Act III? Is it, like, the bread around a Don Juan / Satan sandwich? I preferred the bread. I didn't hate the Don Juan / Satan part. I underlined a whole bunch of stuff that was really smart and / or funny. I just...it obviously goes on too long. The characters acknowledge it themselves! Pygmalion was better. Soundtrack: - The Suf Look, there are three awesome acts in this and then there's that whole thing in the middle where Don Juan argues with the devil. Is the rest of the play just an excuse for Act III? Is it, like, the bread around a Don Juan / Satan sandwich? I preferred the bread. I didn't hate the Don Juan / Satan part. I underlined a whole bunch of stuff that was really smart and / or funny. I just...it obviously goes on too long. The characters acknowledge it themselves! Pygmalion was better. Soundtrack: - The Suffering, Fishbone - Masters of Reality

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sohaib

    I had so much fun reading this! My first experience with modernist drama! Man and Superman struck me as picturesque, easy to imagine and follow. The humor is awesome too; couldn’t resist some laughs here and there. The most hilarious scene is when Tanner and Straker are captured by the lovesick brigand Mendoza; and after when, with an unusual build up of familiarity and affinity between prisoners and captor, Mendoza starts reading some poems he wrote for his Louisa, who turns out to be Straker’s I had so much fun reading this! My first experience with modernist drama! Man and Superman struck me as picturesque, easy to imagine and follow. The humor is awesome too; couldn’t resist some laughs here and there. The most hilarious scene is when Tanner and Straker are captured by the lovesick brigand Mendoza; and after when, with an unusual build up of familiarity and affinity between prisoners and captor, Mendoza starts reading some poems he wrote for his Louisa, who turns out to be Straker’s little sister. After some clenched fists and repressed tension, all the same, the night ends amiably with everyone falling asleep while languished Mendoza is still blurting out his third-rate poetry. Here’s a glimpse: The play starts with a Roebuck Ramsden, a haughty bald intellectual and old-timer, sitting in his library. After a while, a very romantic fool called Octavius joins him and professes his love for the girl under his guardianship. Tanner, a philosopher and political reformer, comes barging in like mad because Ann’s father has granted him her guardianship too. Ramsden and Tanner are now livid over the joint custody, sipping from a glass of hatred (not really) and almost getting at each other’s throats – they hate each other if you haven’t already guessed and the two clearly epitomize the conflict between old and new. Oh! And not to mention that Tanner hates Ann and calls her a hypocrite and a coquette, and rightly so. Don’t worry I’m not going to spoil this for you. The philosophic comedy continues with a car crash, a man’s attempt to run away from marriage, a held up by generous brigands, a dream about Lucifer and Don Juan having a philosophical debate (two mouthpieces for Shaw; couldn’t think of better praters really), a man’s willful descent from aristocracy and a final yielding to the Life Force. And that stands for sex. So everything considered, this is a masterpiece, a pastiche – political, economical, psychological and philosophical. Read it! By all means! It’s one of those literary breezes! This review is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bruce

    This work, published in 1903, contains three parts: a “Epistle Dedicatory”; the play itself; and “The Revolutionist’s Handbook”. The first is a letter to the author’s friend, Arthur Bingham Walkley, who had originally suggested that GBS write a play on the subject of Don Juan; in this letter GBS not only explains why he has turned the legend on its head but presents his conviction that woman is the true pursuer in the race toward matrimony. Woven into this presentation are threads of GBS’s opini This work, published in 1903, contains three parts: a “Epistle Dedicatory”; the play itself; and “The Revolutionist’s Handbook”. The first is a letter to the author’s friend, Arthur Bingham Walkley, who had originally suggested that GBS write a play on the subject of Don Juan; in this letter GBS not only explains why he has turned the legend on its head but presents his conviction that woman is the true pursuer in the race toward matrimony. Woven into this presentation are threads of GBS’s opinions on any number of issues and topics, expressed in his typical entertaining and articulate style and filled with Shavian bons mots. The play proper is in four acts, the third being a long digression from the main action often referred to as “Don Juan in Hell.” Although the characters are other than in the remaining three acts, they are played by the same actors, and this subplot is closely related to the primary action. Nonetheless, this act is sometimes omitted in performance and is occasionally presented as a one-act play in itself. I have not seen any of this work in performance, and I wonder what such a performance would be like. One of my reasons for this uncertainty is the inclusion of long, complex, and philosophic stage directions that would of necessity be unknown to the audience. I suppose the solution would be to read the play before seeing it. “The Revolutionist’s Handbook” is an appendix written by John Tanner, the play’s chief protagonist and presumably GBS’s stand-in. It is delightfully iconoclastic and presents the argument and supporting details for GBS’s own Fabian Socialism. There is a passing nod to Nietzsche’s use of the term “Superman,” but this does not play a big role in GBS’s argument. The “Handbook” is often amusing, and I wonder to what extent it is truly a reflection of GBS’s beliefs and to what extent it is purely fictional. It may be that the author is presenting his own ideas under a patina of humor to make them more palatable to unsympathetic readers. This is a rich work, very funny, filled with sparkling writing, and containing a substantial core of thought-provoking ideas that deserve extended pondering and reflection long after the back cover is closed.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Buck

    No, not that Superman, dumbass. The other one. You know, Nietzsche? The Übermensch? Blond beast? None of this rings a bell? What did you do at that fancy school of yours for four years? So anyway, Man and Superman is uber-bad. And now I don’t know what to make of Shaw. Heartbreak House was unexpectedly awesome: smart, funny, pessimistic—everything you could ask for in a play. But this one…blech. A lumbering and tendentious monster. It’s like a highbrow, 1905 version of All in the Family: no topi No, not that Superman, dumbass. The other one. You know, Nietzsche? The Übermensch? Blond beast? None of this rings a bell? What did you do at that fancy school of yours for four years? So anyway, Man and Superman is uber-bad. And now I don’t know what to make of Shaw. Heartbreak House was unexpectedly awesome: smart, funny, pessimistic—everything you could ask for in a play. But this one…blech. A lumbering and tendentious monster. It’s like a highbrow, 1905 version of All in the Family: no topical issue left unexplored, no talking point undelivered. Except Shaw gets off a few good lines, which All in the Family never did, as far as I remember. Meathead was a funny name, though. I laughed at that when I was seven.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Haoyan Do

    I am quite amazed at the tension between Ann and Jack Tanner, despite the fact that Jack announced so emphatically that he had the least intention to marry Ann. Still, whenever they met, Jack was interested in converse with Ann, who took advantage of the twists and turns in the conversation to snare her prey. Actually in real life, women do that every day. And the older women get, the more women have to engage in such activities. Well, probably not every woman. Some just completely give up on re I am quite amazed at the tension between Ann and Jack Tanner, despite the fact that Jack announced so emphatically that he had the least intention to marry Ann. Still, whenever they met, Jack was interested in converse with Ann, who took advantage of the twists and turns in the conversation to snare her prey. Actually in real life, women do that every day. And the older women get, the more women have to engage in such activities. Well, probably not every woman. Some just completely give up on relationships.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Manik Sukoco

    Shaw has packed many high-level topics into this play, while at the same time keeping long portions of the dialogue fairly low-level. Two topics jump out most frequently: hell and enjoyment. His take on each respective topic is fresh, seemingly from an entirely new perspective. In the third act, the characters' conversation stands out in a couple ways. The explanation of hell from Don Juan, the Statue, and The Devil's point of view is unique. From a Judeo-Christian standpoint, it reeks of blasphe Shaw has packed many high-level topics into this play, while at the same time keeping long portions of the dialogue fairly low-level. Two topics jump out most frequently: hell and enjoyment. His take on each respective topic is fresh, seemingly from an entirely new perspective. In the third act, the characters' conversation stands out in a couple ways. The explanation of hell from Don Juan, the Statue, and The Devil's point of view is unique. From a Judeo-Christian standpoint, it reeks of blasphemy, twisting around the traditional views to show things as they really are: The devil finally gets to tell his side of the story; heaven is boring; anyone can go between the two afterlives whenever they please. What is interesting is that Shaw's hell can fit with the Judeo-Christian/Biblical facts, something that the blasphemy police certainly will not give any credence to or spend any time investigating. His idea that heaven and hell are created for those who are going there matches perfectly with Biblical theology. A person not living in the grace of Jesus would hate heaven just as much as a person living in his grace would hate hell. Biblical theologians would not agree (if one could get them to listen) that people can choose their own eternity, nor would they agree with the concept of non-believers enjoying themselves in hell, even if one could get them to voice their belief that they will be given over to all the desires of their flesh. What is fascinating about Shaw's hell is just that idea - that if life is about your passions and enjoyment (namely, the flesh) then your afterlife will be personal to those same passions and enjoyment. At this point, the conservative Judeo-Christians would be sharpening their inquisition equipment in a fervent rage because much of the play speaks to that idea of personal enjoyment during life, specifically the English. Don Juan says that humans live to try to understand life more but later adds to that idea by saying that understanding only helps us to know that we are enjoying ourselves. Life then becomes the pursuit of enjoyment, and hell mimics that pursuit as a sort of eternal amusement park. In a statement that seems like a pre-response to his opponent's case, Don Juan then says that although he spent his whole life looking for pleasure, he never found it. If it could ever happen, it is that response which could appease the frantic theologians. The devil, being the father of lies has pulled the eternal wool over everyone's eyes, both the living and the dead, and has gotten them to abandon their real purpose. Reading Shaw's works are a genuine treat. All of his plays are fabulous. His characters are memorable, and his humor is brilliant. This is a wonderful book, charming, significant, and insightful.

  12. 5 out of 5

    S.Ach

    I have a huge inferiority complex about myself. That prevents me to approach great books, lest I wouldn't understand the great writers. I had heard the name of Bernard Shaw and how great a writer he was, in my school days. But never dared to read him. Now, that some gray hairs have begun to reveal themselves in my head, I have been trying to imbibe some of the thoughts of great minds. Some times I fail, sometimes they fail me, but some other times, they get in to my mind and make me realize thing I have a huge inferiority complex about myself. That prevents me to approach great books, lest I wouldn't understand the great writers. I had heard the name of Bernard Shaw and how great a writer he was, in my school days. But never dared to read him. Now, that some gray hairs have begun to reveal themselves in my head, I have been trying to imbibe some of the thoughts of great minds. Some times I fail, sometimes they fail me, but some other times, they get in to my mind and make me realize things that I have never thought of before - at least in their terms. Those are exhilarating moments of my life. Reading 'Man and Superman' is one of those moments. Man's eternal search for finding the 'Superman' who he can relate to and idolize at the same time is the basic theme of the book. And for a man being 'Superman' he has to sacrifice the social norms like 'marriage and conformity' and naturally would face resistance. Rationalization of this constitute the basic dialogues of the play. Full of quotes that would make you think, and chortle simultaneously, makes this great 'comedy and philosophy' - as the author likes to put it, one of the finest reads of my life. I would read it multiple times. I loved especially the The Revolutionist's Handbook and Pocket Companion Respect for the 'English Nietzsche'.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Paul Dinger

    This play had both strengths and weaknesses. The dialouge was great, it wasn't the same old stuff, and it had a true sense of humor. However, it is a play of ideas, and dialouges while they are great for philosophy papers, do bring plays to a total halt, this play is full of those moments, most tellingly in the remake of Mozart's Don Juan in a dream sequence. One would think that the deft author of Candidia and Arms and Man would know this, but he doesn't. The play is full of references to the l This play had both strengths and weaknesses. The dialouge was great, it wasn't the same old stuff, and it had a true sense of humor. However, it is a play of ideas, and dialouges while they are great for philosophy papers, do bring plays to a total halt, this play is full of those moments, most tellingly in the remake of Mozart's Don Juan in a dream sequence. One would think that the deft author of Candidia and Arms and Man would know this, but he doesn't. The play is full of references to the lifeforce. It is just enough of a vague concept for Shaw to talk of his heroes from Marx to Nietszche, but it's very vagueness works against it in my opinion making it less a play of ideas and more a play about how marriages and relationships don't work. Why should they if they don't even fit the needs of those who enter into them, which they do so blindly. It is the best idea of the dream sequence which sadly doesn't work out in the play. Marriage is never a sanctuary in Shaw as it is in most comedy, you never get the sense that the marriages he shows will ever work. This play is no exception. YOu really do wish that like Don Juan, he characters would leave it all behind and go away. They would be much happier.

  14. 4 out of 5

    BrokenTune

    Review first published on BookLikes: http://brokentune.booklikes.com/post/... "... the book about the bird and the bee is natural history. It's an awful lesson to mankind. You think that you are Ann's suitor; that you are the pursuer and she the pursued; that it is your part to woo, to persuade, to prevail, to overcome. Fool: it is you who are the pursued, the marked down quarry, the destined prey. You need not sit looking longingly at the bait through the wires of the trap: the door is open, and Review first published on BookLikes: http://brokentune.booklikes.com/post/... "... the book about the bird and the bee is natural history. It's an awful lesson to mankind. You think that you are Ann's suitor; that you are the pursuer and she the pursued; that it is your part to woo, to persuade, to prevail, to overcome. Fool: it is you who are the pursued, the marked down quarry, the destined prey. You need not sit looking longingly at the bait through the wires of the trap: the door is open, and will remain so until it shuts behind you for ever." I liked Man and Superman as a comedy of manners. But saying I liked it because of the flippant interplay between the characters, the witty dialogue and the satire of Edwardian society is hardly an analysis of Shaw's most philosophical work. However, the sad truth in my case is that I just cannot remember what Shaw's point was in Man and Superman. I'm sure he had one but I got distracted by the candy-floss comedy in which he wrapped his message. So, I may have to read this again sometime - or go and watch the play. I hear there is also a film version with Peter O'Toole.

  15. 4 out of 5

    محمد عبادة

    I remember to have read one of the longest and most complicated monologues ever in this play .. I think I need to re-read it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ben Goodridge

    There are two things I've picked up over this year's literary intensive. One is that some books stay afloat due not to popular circulation, but outsized academic interest. The other is that it's appropriate to be skeptical of self-appointed social critics and truth-tellers. Socialist sophist George Bernard Shaw had the random misfortune to show up at the wrong end of the reading list with his table-pounding polemic "Man and Superman." I might be a bit biased for that. One is persuaded around the There are two things I've picked up over this year's literary intensive. One is that some books stay afloat due not to popular circulation, but outsized academic interest. The other is that it's appropriate to be skeptical of self-appointed social critics and truth-tellers. Socialist sophist George Bernard Shaw had the random misfortune to show up at the wrong end of the reading list with his table-pounding polemic "Man and Superman." I might be a bit biased for that. One is persuaded around the middle of page 6,724 that, at the very least, Shaw might have covered this same ground with more economy. It's an infuriatingly long play. Producers will often leave out Act 3 entirely, turning one's attention to the fact that Act 3 CAN be left out, without noticeably impoverishing the story. Additionally, shoving a political tract into the restrictions of a comedy of manners is a bit like stuffing a rhinoceros into a ballet unitard. The rhino is still a rhino and the outfit will only get muddy. The trouble comes when Shaw goes on for so long that even people who might agree with him are glancing at their watches, squirming in their seats, and sighing ever more deeply, waiting for the protagonist to wrap it up so the plot can move. The seams start to split and the hem starts to fray and eventually the audience goes, "Hey, that's a rhinoceros."

  17. 4 out of 5

    Forhad Sumon

    in this play, Shaw's heroine Anna Whitefield, Her father has died and willed that her guardianship be taken on by Ramsden and Tanner both. Moreover, while giving the appearance of loving her suitor, Octavius, Ann has actually set her keen sights on Jack Tanner. Much of what Man & Superman centers on is how Ann goes about landing the elusive Jack, who disdains her for her silky deceptions. As she finagles, several others -- like dashing chauffeur/mechanic Henry Straker -- chatter wittily aroun in this play, Shaw's heroine Anna Whitefield, Her father has died and willed that her guardianship be taken on by Ramsden and Tanner both. Moreover, while giving the appearance of loving her suitor, Octavius, Ann has actually set her keen sights on Jack Tanner. Much of what Man & Superman centers on is how Ann goes about landing the elusive Jack, who disdains her for her silky deceptions. As she finagles, several others -- like dashing chauffeur/mechanic Henry Straker -- chatter wittily around her. It's third act is very interesting and fascinating as well, which contains "Don Juan in Hell," a dream sequence that Jack shares with the revolutionary Spaniard, Mendoza. As Mendoza, playing the devil to Jack's Don Juan, says, "There's a notion that I was turned out of [heaven], but as a matter of fact, nothing could have induced me to stay there." And that's just a tantalizing sample. Man & Superman requires deft handling, and not simply because of the weighty "Don Juan in Hell" challenge. but for other intriguing aspects.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mac

    This was a super-size play! "Man and Superman" was a familiar title but I had no idea what it would be about. It turns out to be Shaw's revision of the Don Juan story. In the middle of the play, there is a long, self-contained dream sequence where the actors of the contemporary story appear as Don Juan, Dona Ana, the Statue (of Dona Ana's father, killed by Don Juan), and the Devil. This was quite amusing in itself and nailed down some of Shaw's main points of the play: male and female relations, This was a super-size play! "Man and Superman" was a familiar title but I had no idea what it would be about. It turns out to be Shaw's revision of the Don Juan story. In the middle of the play, there is a long, self-contained dream sequence where the actors of the contemporary story appear as Don Juan, Dona Ana, the Statue (of Dona Ana's father, killed by Don Juan), and the Devil. This was quite amusing in itself and nailed down some of Shaw's main points of the play: male and female relations, what a regular man or woman wants versus what a superman (artist/creator) wants. It's hard for me to imagine this working as a theater piece—it seems like it would be way too long. But on the page it was very enjoyable, though I can't say I agree with Shaw's contentions. Somehow the superman comes off sounding like... G. B. Shaw, who was more interested in artistic/philosophical creation than in procreation.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jacob London

    A socialist/modernist play that extols the supposed virtues on hedonism while also downplaying its eternal and moral significance.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lina

    Reader: Oh, hi, book! How are you doing? Book: Contemplating the sense of life! [Three pages speech about the sense of life], you see? Reader: Erm... yes... anyway, have you been anywhere nice recently? Book: I have been to the Sierra Nevada, captured by bandits, held for ransom and then gone to hell. Reader: They killed you?! Book: Oh, no, I fell asleep. Reader: And you couldn't have done that at home? Book: What is the sense in sleeping if you don't do it in charming surroundings? And at least now I Reader: Oh, hi, book! How are you doing? Book: Contemplating the sense of life! [Three pages speech about the sense of life], you see? Reader: Erm... yes... anyway, have you been anywhere nice recently? Book: I have been to the Sierra Nevada, captured by bandits, held for ransom and then gone to hell. Reader: They killed you?! Book: Oh, no, I fell asleep. Reader: And you couldn't have done that at home? Book: What is the sense in sleeping if you don't do it in charming surroundings? And at least now I understand the relevancy of my life, of my struggles, and why I am where I am and who I am and [forty pages on the sense of life]. Reader: Good for you. Hey, did you hear? Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are getting married. Book: [Ninety pages on the truth and state of courtship and marriage, sex and procreation] Reader: I'm sorry to hear that. You won't be watching it then? Book: I don't have eyes. Reader: Oh, right... sorry. Book: No problem. Reader: Well, are you alright now after your kidnapping? Book: Not very. I have been kidnapped again. Reader: Oh... okay? Do you need any help? Book: A divorce attorney, I suppose. Reader: ... you mean you've gotten married? Book: No, I mean I've purchased a new house. Of course I got married. What else do divorce attorneys do? Reader: Watching their friends get married and lovingly stroking their bank accounts? Book: That too. Reader: So, your kidnapping is your marriage? Book: What else is marriage? Reader: A reckless waste of money for the excuse to wear a beautiful dress only once in your life? Book: It is the appreciation of the beautiful that results in wednappings. Reader: You could always fake your own death. Book: Oh, but I can't. I want to be with her. Reader: Then why did you get married? Book: She trapped me. Reader: And that's what divorce attorneys are good for. Book: But what is the use? I will always be her slave. Reader: You can divorce her. Book: Yet I shall always be her slave. Reader: Or you can divorce her. Book: And I shall still always be her slave. Reader: Then clearly you get off on that and I wish you all the best. At least your sex life will be interesting. Book: Sex with paper sounds rather painful. Reader: You are an eBook. Book: Oh, rig- *catches a virus and dies* Reader: And I wasn't even invited to your devildamn wedding! *shakes head and trots off to become a divorce attorney* (Curtain)

  21. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    This is the second time that I've read this thing. One of the first cultural entertainment backdrop events that I did foray as an eight year college student moving to the big city for purpose of gainful employment was to catch a Shaw play entitled Misalliance at the now former Guthrie. Or do I simply say "Guthrie" back there in that previous sentence because, after all, everyone still to this very day says "The New Guthrie" when discussing... err... the new Guthrie. Anyway, I hate explaining th This is the second time that I've read this thing. One of the first cultural entertainment backdrop events that I did foray as an eight year college student moving to the big city for purpose of gainful employment was to catch a Shaw play entitled Misalliance at the now former Guthrie. Or do I simply say "Guthrie" back there in that previous sentence because, after all, everyone still to this very day says "The New Guthrie" when discussing... err... the new Guthrie. Anyway, I hate explaining things. So for this second reading I was painfully hoping that the denoted superman in said play was not the metaphorical ideal of superfluous man but instead that Kal-El of Krypton guy flying around the world several, several times in counter-rotation of the constantly-spinning earth thereby forcing the rotation of the earth to go backwards thus sending everything back in time. Then my Superman was able to stop the other missile from blowing up its intended target thereby allowing Lois to live. By my definition, then, a Superman is someone that has the ability to alter history so that Lois Lane's car is never caught in the other missile's aftershock. It should be noted that Shaw has an entirely different opinion on the very defining characteristics and attributes of a superman. So, to gracefully finish up my review of Shaw's Man and Superman, the second reading of the play was very much like the first, except for this second reading I printed the play up from Project Gutenberg here at work and then read the thing, page by page, throughout the course of my children's soccer games this past week. And a word to the socially conscience: I didn't kill a tree by printing up this play at work. By my account the tree was already dead when it was turned in to paper. If anything, I killed time in the work environment, which is basically the daily goal when one is salaried.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Casey

    Man and Superman is an odd play. The 3rd act, which apparently is often not performed in productions of the play, seems to take a 180. Mr. Whitfield dies, leaving the guardianship of his daughter to two men, an older proper English gentleman, Roebuck Ramsden (what a name!) and the socialist, argumentative Jack Tanner. Another friend of Ann, Octavius Robinson is present while they discuss the guardianship of Ann. As the play progresses, there's a love triangle between Octavius, Ann, and Tanner. Lat Man and Superman is an odd play. The 3rd act, which apparently is often not performed in productions of the play, seems to take a 180. Mr. Whitfield dies, leaving the guardianship of his daughter to two men, an older proper English gentleman, Roebuck Ramsden (what a name!) and the socialist, argumentative Jack Tanner. Another friend of Ann, Octavius Robinson is present while they discuss the guardianship of Ann. As the play progresses, there's a love triangle between Octavius, Ann, and Tanner. Later, there's a romance subplot of some other characters. The 3rd Act involves Don Juan, the Devil, Ana (a young woman Don Juan fought a duel over), and Ana's father who Don Juan had killed in the duel. It's a slightly tedious part, where Shaw gets to expound his ideas through Don Juan. I got the impression that this was the play Shaw really wanted to write, but he knew he needed to pack up his ideas in a more palatable manner for the masses. Don Juan and Tanner both express their disdain for the institution of marriage. However, (view spoiler)[Tanner is betrothed against his will to Ann at the end with the assumption they will probably live their married life like any other couple, despite Tanner's objections. (hide spoiler)] The attraction to women by men is too overwhelming for reasoning to prevail. In thinking on this rather long play, I think Shaw is positive towards independent women, but he doesn't like that women have this ability to suck men into marriage. Yet, I don't think the play offers any sort of solutions, and probably in the time period it was written the options were few. Superman does refer to Nietzche, and I didn't read closely enough to understand what Shaw was getting at. The message seemed muddled to me. If I'm guessing, it's that man isn't going to evolve until he stops being entrapped by women out for marriage? Sex and physical attraction push men to stay alive, but they need to break free?

  23. 5 out of 5

    David

    It's hard to rate this one, in a way. There were parts that were absolutely delightful. The first act is great, really funny, puts things in motion in a very entertaining way. Act 2 gets the job done. Act 3 starts well, then takes a wild metaphysical turn that's at first bracing and then horribly overextended. The play never quite recovers, but it's still got enough good lines that it's worth a read. I'm trying to imagine that perhaps it would play better on stage, but in fact it might be even m It's hard to rate this one, in a way. There were parts that were absolutely delightful. The first act is great, really funny, puts things in motion in a very entertaining way. Act 2 gets the job done. Act 3 starts well, then takes a wild metaphysical turn that's at first bracing and then horribly overextended. The play never quite recovers, but it's still got enough good lines that it's worth a read. I'm trying to imagine that perhaps it would play better on stage, but in fact it might be even more trying on stage, because those doldrums would last so much longer than just reading them. (But then, staging and performance can redeem a lot.) You can see why Shaw's a great, though. [Note: many of Shaw's plays are available as free ebooks from Project Gutenberg, since they are in the public domain. Try them out!]

  24. 5 out of 5

    J.M.

    December of Drama 2015, day 24 "And you got lost in a cycle of no progress Just rinse, repeat, remind and forget." --Like Bullets, by Snowden A "drama of ideas," you say. Well you don't see that too often, but it's true. In fact once it gets to the scene with the Devil and Don Juan as characters, the rest of it almost feels irrelevant or too melodramatic, even, dare I say, filler. As is so often the case when Satan enters fiction, he steals the scene and has the best lines. I supremely enjoyed that December of Drama 2015, day 24 "And you got lost in a cycle of no progress Just rinse, repeat, remind and forget." --Like Bullets, by Snowden A "drama of ideas," you say. Well you don't see that too often, but it's true. In fact once it gets to the scene with the Devil and Don Juan as characters, the rest of it almost feels irrelevant or too melodramatic, even, dare I say, filler. As is so often the case when Satan enters fiction, he steals the scene and has the best lines. I supremely enjoyed that extended scene and cared little for the rest.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Frank Roberts

    More a work of philosophy than a play for the theater, Man and Superman does have a humorous and enjoyable facade as a romantic comedy in the vein of Shakespeare. But in reality it is a work of ideas, with profound questions of Art, the Relation of the Sexes, and Fatherhood being explored.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Simon Koenig

    Read this in High School and it was simply fantastic. It has stuck with me all these years. Perhaps it was the teacher, perhaps the author maybe both, probably both. Regardless, worth the time and effort to read and study.

  27. 5 out of 5

    SL

    Brilliant on page & stage, a wonderful mix of Voltaire's Candide, Plato's dialogues with a subtle mix of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. Full review to come.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jo

    I found some parts enjoyable, but other parts quite befuddling. I wasn't sure why the brigands were in there or the hell sequence.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Edward Cheer

    What a long play. God****. Man and Superman is a play by the illustrious George Bernard Shaw that follows the traditional Shakespearian romantic farce structure. There are some difficult, unattainable women, slapstick gags, and ending with a marriage... but at the same time Shaw takes these basic archetypes and turns his play into something more powerful and even frightening: a deconstruction of conflict between man and woman. The play is heavily influenced by other writers. Shaw openly refers to What a long play. God****. Man and Superman is a play by the illustrious George Bernard Shaw that follows the traditional Shakespearian romantic farce structure. There are some difficult, unattainable women, slapstick gags, and ending with a marriage... but at the same time Shaw takes these basic archetypes and turns his play into something more powerful and even frightening: a deconstruction of conflict between man and woman. The play is heavily influenced by other writers. Shaw openly refers to several writers and their works through the texts, such as Nietzsche (praise be unto him), Voltaire, Machiavelli, and Dante. Through this, he mixes comedy with philosophy as the character Jack Tanner (a very relatable protagonist for me personally) struggles to express his strong opinions about society and women but comes across as a Polonius-type that just can't shut up. Hell, the ending even ends with him giving a very resigned monologue about his distaste with marriage. Man and Superman is also a play about the changing scope of philosophy in the new world. A full recognition that there will always be a conflict of interests, a constant shift in power that will keep any sane individual uncomfortable and struggle for the opposite of their interests. And Jack Tanner is a prime example of this conflict. He very strongly hates marriage, yet he is being perpetually forced into a marriage and it is all kept outside of his control. Sure, the ending could be pretty funny... but the shocking truth about how defeated Jack must be is saddening. The only problem I had with the play was the whole third act. It was far too long compared to the other acts, and it drags a lot, as there's a random extended dream sequence where various ghosts discuss philosophy while in Hell. It's a poetic idea, but their dialogue doesn't feel like it leads anywhere. It brings up good points on existentialism and adds to the character of Jack Tanner, but the way they so casually refer to their debate taking as long as it needs to makes it feel like it's not a pressing issue or conversation. Some of the characters introduced in the third act also could have been cut out and little would have changed. It just feels unnecessary and a lacking in subtlety for my taste. Other than that, Shaw's play on the constant struggle with every man (and woman's) life really spoke to me. The characters were all memorable and enjoyable, the comedy was very on-point, and the philosophical points brought up were very powerful. Man and Superman, while flawed, is still a great play.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ori Nagel

    Eh, debated putting this at one star but I'll give it two. It's really a philosophical, political work on industrialization and women's rights. There isn't much of a story, and the emotions and motives of the characters feel vapid. There's a whole act that just derails into an extended parlour debate about morality and women. Like a bad, kinda-witty Socrates dialogue. So tedious. But the political/philosophical debate still feels relevant today and is overall compelling, which is why I soldiered Eh, debated putting this at one star but I'll give it two. It's really a philosophical, political work on industrialization and women's rights. There isn't much of a story, and the emotions and motives of the characters feel vapid. There's a whole act that just derails into an extended parlour debate about morality and women. Like a bad, kinda-witty Socrates dialogue. So tedious. But the political/philosophical debate still feels relevant today and is overall compelling, which is why I soldiered through it. What I liked is the power ascribed to the working class in these changing times. Jack Tanner, a wealthy man, observes he's at the mercy of his chauffeur, Enry Straker. The line that struck me, "I am Enry’s slave, just as Uncle James was his cook’s slave." Much like Shaw ascribes power to the working class, he also creates powerful women in the play at a time when they typically are passive. But while the women have power they're also one-dimensional: their entire motive is to have children. I found it to be pretty pessimistic. The way Ann toys with Ricky Ticky Tavy Octavious was pretty funny though! Finally, there's a tension between art, achievement, and family that I liked. Jack Tanner is on a mission to revolutionize politics, but he also wants a family like a common man. Does a successful artist have to let go of the trappings of the conventional world? Is it possible to change the world and still get your natural desires met? Interesting questions, and an interesting exploration--even though I wasn't super excited about stumbling upon a philosophy text inside a play.

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