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Man and Superman

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  3,570 ratings  ·  196 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 art ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 28th 2000 by Penguin Classics (first published 1903)
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Popular Answered Questions
Tarek 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

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3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,570 ratings  ·  196 reviews

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Huda Yahya

الإنسان والسوبرمان هي ثاني أفضل ما قرأت لشو بعد بجماليون
فالمسرحية برغم طولها المفرط إلا أنها وجبة عقلية ممتعة
وفيها يستغل شو سخريته اللاذعة وأسلوبه الجذاب
في ابتداع نوع متميز من المسرحيات
ألا وهو مسرح الأفكار

ما الإنسان إلا حبل منصوب بين الحيوان والإنسان المتفوق
فهو الحبل المشدود فوق الهاوية
إن في العبور للجهة المقابلة مخاطرة
وفي البقاء وسط الطريق خطراً
وفي الإلتفات إلى الوراء
وفي كل تردد وفي كل توقف خطر في خطر..

نيتشه- هكذا تكلم زارادشت
لقد ورد لفظ السوبرمان قبلا على لس
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.

Luckily, Shaw ex
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 bring us
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, especially whe
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
Lina AL Ojaili
Oct 06, 2012 rated it liked it
مسرحية غريبة حول طبيعة الكائن البشري والشيطان.
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: t
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.

- The Suf
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
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 topi
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
Shawgi Al-o
Sep 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing

: 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
Mohamed El-Mahallawy
سمى توفيق الحكيم هذا النوع ب"مسرح الأفكار" او "المسرح الفكري" فهو يتميز بضعف الحدث نفسه أو هامشيته أمام سيل الأفكار والفلسفة المتدفق في الحوار ...
مسرحية طويلة للغاية ولكنها تستأهل كل دقيقة ..
الفكرة تبدو في البداية تقليدية حول المعركة مابين الأصالة والتقاليد والعراقة من جهة والحرية والحداثة والإشتراكية من جهة أخرى ..
ثم تتحول في خط موازي إلى المعركة مابين الرجل والمرأة وفكرة الرجل عن المرأة وسعيها للزواج لكيانها البيولوجي ونفور المرأة من وصفها بذلك الوصف وكأنه احتقار لها في حين انها كائن يسعى للبق
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 blasphe
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 realize thing
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
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 around the
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 wittily aroun
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
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
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 th
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
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 best lines. I supremely enjoyed that
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.
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.
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.
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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
“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.” 3198 likes
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