Sara's Reviews > Man and Superman

Man and Superman by George Bernard Shaw
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Oct 07, 08

bookshelves: play, 20th-century, satire, philosophy
Read in October, 2008

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 Ann Whitefield. I'm not admitting much to say that the idea of a Superman, and what he comes from, is not something I typically think about on a daily basis. But the idea that the perfect leader of men, a god almost, must come from a perfect but unwilling union, is fairly intense. It does make one think about marriage from a different perspective for sure. The attached "Revolutionist's Handbook" was too much dense socialist philosophy, though, so I quit about a third of the way through.

Also, something else that occurred to me: doesn't the "Life Force" sound like a relative of "Purity of Essence?" In Dr. Strangelove, General Ripper is paranoid that the Commies are trying to corrupt his "precious bodily fluids" by fluoridating public water; in Man and Superman, Tanner (i.e., Shaw) is paranoid that Ann (i.e., all women) is trying to corrupt his soul by forcing marriage upon him. Awwwww. Now if only I had paid any attention to the Star Wars Trilogy and could tie that in somehow....
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