Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Man and Superman” as Want to Read:
Man and Superman
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Man and Superman

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  3,683 ratings  ·  207 reviews
Shaw began writing Man and Superman in 1901 and determined to write a play that would encapsulate the new century's intellectual inheritance. Shaw drew not only on Byron's verse satire, but also on Shakespeare, the Victorian comedy fashionable in his early life, and from authors from Conan Doyle to Kipling. In this powerful drama of ideas, Shaw explores the role of the artist, the ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 28th 2000 by Penguin Classics (first published 1903)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Man and Superman, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Tarek Taha I totally agree, I believe Tanner didn’t evolve in the story enough to make that switch. Felt bit childish and sudden, especially that Ann didn’t show…moreI totally agree, I believe Tanner didn’t evolve in the story enough to make that switch. Felt bit childish and sudden, especially that Ann didn’t show the strong influence on him through an urgument or flirting that would convince the reader that Tanner, with his strong determination would act in such way. The answer may be bit explained by Don Jaun dialogue in Hell.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,683 ratings  ·  207 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Man and Superman
Jul 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nobels
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. ...more
David Sarkies
Jun 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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/>We
J.G. Keely
Feb 12, 2010 rated it liked it
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, es
Dec 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 23, 2011 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: pretentious ignoramuses
Recommended to Bruce by: posterity, that a$$hole
Shelves: arts
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:memory:
Mar 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Oct 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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. Afdrama!
Mar 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 10, 2010 rated it it was ok
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 topical issue left unexplore
Haoyan Do
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Manik Sukoco
Jul 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
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 b
Oct 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 r
Paul Dinger
Jul 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
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 will remain so until it shuts behind/>"...
محمد عبادة
Feb 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theater-plays
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.
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
Forhad Sumon
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 w
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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, ...more
Jacob London
Sep 09, 2019 rated it did not like it
A socialist/modernist play that extols the supposed virtues on hedonism while also downplaying its eternal and moral significance.
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 th
Aug 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 t
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 Octavi
May 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2014
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
Dec 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: drama, british
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 b
Frank Roberts
Mar 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics
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.
Simon Koenig
Aug 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
May 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jun 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: scribd, classics
I found some parts enjoyable, but other parts quite befuddling. I wasn't sure why the brigands were in there or the hell sequence.
Edward Cheer
Mar 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
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
Ori Nagel
Sep 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Superman the Hero Vs The Man of Steel Creature Doomsday 1 1 May 19, 2018 01:37AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Murder in the Cathedral
  • Measure for Measure
  • The Maid Silja: The History of the Last Offshoot of an Old Family Tree
  • Miss Lonelyhearts
  • عبث الأقدار
  • Let Us Have Faith
  • Light in my Darkness
  • The Lives of Angels
  • A Treatise on Cosmic Fire
  • Optimism (1903)
  • Camille: The Life of Camille Claudel, Rodin's Muse and Mistress
  • Collected Poems
  • A Treatise on White Magic: The Way of the Disciple
  • The Open Door
  • The World I Live In and Optimism: A Collection of Essays
  • The Poetry and Short Stories of Dorothy Parker (Modern Library)
  • My Religion
  • The Complete Poems of Dorothy Parker
See similar books…
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
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” 3296 likes
“There are two tragedies in life. One is to lose your heart's desire. The other is to gain it.” 1492 likes
More quotes…