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Man and Superman: A Comedy and a Philosoophy
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Man and Superman: A Comedy and a Philosoophy

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  2,676 ratings  ·  132 reviews
How tantalizing to hear Ralph Fiennes (The English Patient, Schindler's List) but not be able to see him! And hear him one does in his role as Jack Tanner, the antihero of Shaw's 1905 classic drama Man and Superman. Fiennes is a veritable mouthpiece--and a frequently sarcastic one at that--for the burning issues on Shaw's philosophical and social laundry list: the state of ...more
Paperback, 228 pages
Published 1963 by Bantam Books (first published 1903)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Saw this last night at the National Theatre with Ralph Fiennes in the lead. Marvellous, all four hours of it. They even included the oft cut 'Don Juan in Hell' section. Great energy, the greatest dialogue. Our age is in need of a Shaw!
Lina AL Ojaili
مسرحية غريبة حول طبيعة الكائن البشري والشيطان.
David Sarkies
Jul 23, 2015 David Sarkies rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Christians
Recommended to David by: Bernard Shaw himself
Shelves: philosophy
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
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
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 ...more
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
Jan 15, 2010 Buck rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Norman Lear
Shelves: histrionics
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
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 obviously goes on too long. The characters acknowledge it themselves!

Pygmalion was better.

- The Suf
Review first published on BookLikes:

"... 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
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 ...more
Sep 23, 2011 Bruce rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: pretentious ignoramuses
Recommended to Bruce by: posterity, that a$$hole
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
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
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
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.
Shawgi Al-o

: هذه المسرحية ستبقى على طاولتي ولن أعيدها أبدا الى الرف فهي تضحك وتبكي وتأسرك لعظم جمالها ؛ فأردت أن أضع اقتباسات لها فلم استطع ولكن لم يبقى سوى صدى جزء منها يلاتحقني كل يوم

كلا كلا كلا صغيرتي لا تصلي إذا قمتٍ بذلك فانك سوف تهدرين الفائدة الرئيسية لهذا المكان "أي جهنم". هنالك كلمات كتبت على المدخل هي: (أترك وراءك كل أمل،انت الذي تدخل). فقط تأملي أية راحة تلك! لأنه ما الأمل؟ نوع من المسؤولية الاخلاقية.في هذا المكان ليس هنالك أمل ، وبالنتيجة لا واجب، لا عمل، لاشي يتم الحصول عليه بالصلاة، لا شيء
Walker (A Shropshire Girl)
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.
Michael Meeuwis
This time, we get sixty-odd pages of opinions at the beginning, and then a "Revolutionist's Handout" at the end. Shaw shaw shaw? Shaw! Shaw, shaw, shaw; shaw shaw shaw shaw shaw.

Shaw was certainly ahead of his time; unfortunately, this means he was a Fascist before it was cool. I'm doing my absolute best to be sympathetic towards the fact that he was writing at this point in the 1900s, when discussion of the "Life Force"--fucking and Fascism, basically--was still a new and, maybe, somewhat rele
Richard Bentley
May 21, 2014 Richard Bentley rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone with intellectual curiosity
Recommended to Richard by: Myself
This to me is the best play Shaw ever wrote. I have read and reread it several times, and each time I am exhausted emotionally and intellectually when I finish.

One must first recognize that Shaw was writing in a Victorian environment. Opportunity for women in that society was limited to the path of marriage except for exceptional circumstances, particularly for the upper middle class. Kept within that context, Shaw has packed a tightly compressed package of insight and wit having overtones of on
Arunangshu Chakrabarty
This book is very interesting. It is different from others that I have read because it's main idea and theme is socialism. The author, George Bernard Shaw was a playwright in England during the early twentieth century. He was an avid socialist, and was know for putting his ideas into his writing. At the time his ideas and thoughts were controversial and unwelcome. The main opposition came from the upper class, rich and traditional men. It was considered blasphemy and was shunned from the public. ...more
Brendan Monroe
A hell of a play! It's one thing to read it and to think of how it might ever possibly being able to be actually carried off on stage and quite another to see it done so by as marvelous a cast as it deserves. The National Theatre Live production was extraordinary and Ralph Fiennes as Jack Tanner gave what was unquestionably one of the greatest performances I've ever seen. He very simply IS Jack Tanner and to think of any other actor playing the role now is a downright blasphemous thought.

Much t
I found some parts enjoyable, but other parts quite befuddling. I wasn't sure why the brigands were in there or the hell sequence.
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 ...more
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.
Markham Anderson
An interesting argument and enjoyable mental exercise. Two topics are treated: class system and the Life Force, which compels living things to strive for Superhumanity.

The play's (and following handbook's) major drawback is that Shaw appears to have no concept of a society which respects the notion of Property without also being the quagmire of 19th-century England's caste system, having socially restricted its propertied class so much that that class becomes utterly useless, and the wealth of t
In short, a play well worth reading but not without problems.

Man and Superman is wonderfully entertaining in its consistent, playful wittiness and its attempts to shake audience complacency - complacency about the economic and social order (predictably, given GBS' socialist convictions) but also complacency about gender relations AND the deceptions/self-deceptions entangled therein. Actually, almost every character (major or minor) in this play functions to some degree as an agent provocateur,
Ikra Amesta
Hubungan antara laki-laki dan perempuan digambarkan sebagai hubungan antara kebebasan dan daya hidup di mana keduanya mau tak mau harus saling bersinggungan, tarik-menarik, walau pada mulanya keduanya tidak akur.

Melalui hero-nya, John Tanner, keturunan Don Juan yang skeptis terhadap cinta dan perempuan, Benard Shaw menyatakan opininya terhadap laki-laki sebagai mahluk merdeka yang punya kekuatan ‘merusak’, dalam artian sebuah hasrat besar untuk selalu merubah tatanan kehidupan sosial, pemberont
Josh Meares
I really like this play. Shaw is a good writer, and I really enjoy the way he places his ideas in a concrete setting that allows the audience to see their consequences. Of course, I say all that without agreeing with his conclusions.

In Man and Superman, there are several ideas worth remembering. One is the idea of a universal Life Force is propounded. This is similar to, but not identical with, the life force in The Secret or in Coelho's The Alchemist. Where Coehlo's Force allowed you to achieve
This is an absurdist dream-play in which the play within the play serves to shed light on, and even solve, the conflicts of the frame-play. Bernard Shaw considers this work his attempt at writing a Don Juan story. And, in fact, the latent play within the play is about Don Juan. The difference, however, in Shaw's reworking lies in his strong emphasis on Freudian symbolism and socialist philosophies. The Superman is the product of the tragic marriage of Don Juan to Dona Ana, or of John Tanner to A ...more
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Very engaging for a long, dialogue-heavy play. Despite being sexist in his belief that women have nothing to offer outside of procreation, I generally love the ideas that Shaw puts forth, usually in Tanner's or Don Juan's words. He gives you frequent moments where you have to take a few seconds to think about the implications of a specific comment. And it's wonderful how Tanner turns societal convention and morality on its head by underlining the absurdity of his companions' reactions to various ...more
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George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright, socialist, and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama. Over the course of his life he wrote more than 60 plays. Nearly all his plays address prevailing social problems, but ...more
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