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Man and Superman : A Comedy and a Philosophy Paperback – January 18, 1989


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Product Details

  • Series: Shaw Library
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (January 18, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014045019x
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140450194
  • ASIN: 014045019X
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,482,382 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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 the English working class, the arms race, women's rights, unwed mothers, the evils of industry and capitalism, and English morality in general. The seriousness of the discussions is tempered by delightful Shavian wit ("There are two tragedies in life. One is to lose your heart's desire. The other is to gain it."), which prevents the dialogue from collapsing under its own weight, although it does teeter at times. The four-act play, directed by the esteemed Peter Hall for BBC Radio, begins in the English countryside and ends in the mountains of Spain after a curious detour to Hell, where, in act 3, the famous dream sequence unfolds and the main characters take on such roles as Don Juan and the Devil to further hash out the meaning of existence, the definition of life force, and the power of the female sex. This is a spirited production of Shaw's imperfect but intellectually challenging work. (Running time: 225 min; four cassettes) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

Man and Superman was the first drama to be broadcast on the BBC's Third Programme on October 1st, 1946. To celebrate Radio 3's 50th anniversary, the play has now been directed by Sir Peter Hall, and preserved for all time in this lush audio dramatization.



"A comedy and a philosophy," Man and Superman is based on the Don Juan theme and, using all the elements from Mozart's Don Giovanni, Shaw reordered them so that Don Juan becomes the quarry instead of the huntsman. Boasting an outstanding cast including Ralph Fiennes, Juliet Stevenson, Dame Judi Dench, John Wood, Nicholas Le Prevost and Paul Merton, this four cassette release includes an exclusive interview with director Sir Peter Hall. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

In this title, G.B. Shaw outdoes himself.
Noam Zur
Great work right on for today's politically, religiously, and culturally unstable world.
ferg
His characters are memorable, and his humor is brilliant.
Marie Martin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By TheIrrationalMan on February 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
George Bernard Shaw was called, with good reason, the "English Nietzsche". Though Nietzsche was an aristocrat and Shaw a socialist, both cherished the dream of the superman and looked forward to the day when he would be realised. Both, however, were characterised by their mordant wit and intellectual cynicism, in which "Man and Superman" abounds. Shaw manages to compress a number of disparate themes into a relatively taut dramatic format, even throwing in a scene in which Don Juan, the Devil and a gang of anarchist brigands make an appearance. The central event of the plot involves the wealthy Tanner, a member of the "Idle Rich Class" making himself subservient to the Life Force and seeking the perfect woman to marry, who would guarantee him a very special offspring, his ideal, the superman himself. Though Shaw was not known to have read the works of Bergson at that time, nor to have been conversant with his vitalist doctrine of the Life Force, his use of the Life Force motif and the philosophical underpinnings of the play attest to a pure Bergsonism. The most delightful part, however, is the "Revolutionist's Handbook" at the end, which contains Shaw's most scandalous anti-Establishment jibes. For instance, "Do not do unto others as you would them do unto you. They might not have the same taste."
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 6, 2006
Format: Paperback
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.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Nancyhua on February 6, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read this play after enjoying Pygmalion. Shaw creates a female lead who uses her femininity and supposed delicacy/cluelessness to manipulate those around her, ultimately trapping the Don Juan-esque male lead into marrying her despite his objections to the institution. Although she pretends to be helpless, she actually controls the situation, so I think this counts as a feminist work, although I'm confused about what his ultimate message is. I'm also not sure how the whole philosophy of the life-force, superman thing fits in, but I haven't read much philosophy, and I enjoyed the play regardless. Like all of Shaw's stuff, the play contains social commentary, humor, and wit.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Noam Zur on January 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
In this title, G.B. Shaw outdoes himself. Not only does he manage to turn up with a Don Juan play in our modern day and age, which is full of cynicism, and doesn't give in to 'medieval' codes of behaviour, but he even manages to turn around the table. Here, the hunter becomes the hunted, forced to flee from his pursued/pursuer. Shaw includes in this play an ingenious conversation between the original 15th century characters, which not only explains about Don Juan's philosophy, but shines a new light upon our own lives, here and today.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kylie Edwards on February 5, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book was hilarious, and the concept was so true. I could see my friends in some of the characters.

It seems that Shaw just couldn't resist showing us how crazy the human condition really is by his works that always include funny yet absolutely true twists on things, and his twist on the Don Juan tale is one of his best ones yet.
This story was smart and funny. I loved it and wanted more when it was over. I'll have to buy another one of his books. I just love his style.

I can't resist any chance I can get to peek into the mind of a genius, and Shaw was a true genius. This story was delightful and brilliant.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Peter John Pols on March 4, 2010
Format: Paperback
Shaw turns Don Juan on its head in this analysis of the "Don Juanita". We know what attracts men to women, but what attracts women to men, though similar, is far more complex. Shaw has a great sense of irony and a wonderful grip on what makes people tick, and here he uses those gifts to give us a topsy-turvy Don Juan masterwork.
I chuckled all the way though this and just could not put the book down. There's plenty of comedy to be found in romantic attraction and Shaw manages to find all of it. Though it's a very humorous work, there's also a serious message that will leave every reader with something to think about.
George Bernard Shaw created numerous masterpieces over the span of his writing career. He has the distinction of being the only person to ever be awarded both an Oscar and the Nobel Prize for Literature. He was a very humble and conscientious man, a political activist and a vegetarian. His conscientiousness shows in his work by his inability to write meaningless fluff at a time when fluff dominated the stage. His trademark is his classic use of ample humor in dramas with serious subject matter. It takes a special kind of genius to be able to pull that off as flawlessly as he did.
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