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Arms and the Man (Dodo Press) Paperback – October 19, 2007

3.8 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Humor, rather than romance, abounds in this audio play performed in front of a live audience. From its Who's on First–meets–Shakespeare introduction to its surprising and irrelevant ending, Romance will leave listeners laughing uproariously at the running gags, outrageous language and amusing tangents. Fred Willard as a befuddled, overmedicated and pontificating judge hosts this kangaroo court of love affairs, foreign affairs and bigotry so blatant that it would be appalling if it wasn't so satirical. The defendant has discovered the key to peace between Israelis and Palestinians, but unless he can get court to adjourn, his plans will be wasted. The small but talented cast (including Noah Bean, Ed Begley Jr., Gordon Clapp, Steven Goldstein, Rod McLachlan and Rob Nagle) possess perfect timing and delivery. While the gross and vulgar language may scare some listeners away, its nonchalant execution dissolves its venom and infuses humor. Dirty and delicious, listeners will find this audiobook ending sooner than they will desire. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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'Published with the approval of the Shaw estate, these fresh and up-to-date editions are sure to be of interest to both old Shavians and newcomers to his work.' whatsonstage.com 'The competence and breadth of Wearing's research...make this edition an obvious choice for classroom teaching and pleasure reading. Moreover, it should be the one of record for any serious scholar.' Shaw: The Annual Bernard Shaw Studies (September 2009) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 84 pages
  • Publisher: Dodo Press (October 19, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1406553824
  • ISBN-13: 978-1406553826
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,303,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on May 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
George Bernard Shaw takes the title for this play from the opening life of Virgil's epic poem the "Aeneid," which begins "Of arms and the man I sing." Virgil glorified war and the heroic feats of Aeneas on the battlefield. However, Shaw's purpose in this play is to attack the romantic notion of war by presenting a more realistic depiction of war, devoid of the idea that such death and destruction speaks to nobility. Still, "Arms and the Man" is not an anti-war drama, but rather a satirical assault on those who would glorify the horrors or war.
Shaw develops an ironic contrast between two central characters. The play begins with accounts of the glorious exploits of Major Sergius Saranoff, a handsome young Bulgarian officer, in a daring cavalry raid, which turned the war in favor of the Bulgarians over the Serbs. In contrast, Captain Bluntschil, a professional soldier from Switzerland, acts like a coward. He climbs up to a balcony to escape capture, he threatens a woman with a gun, and he carries chocolates rather than cartridges because he claims the sweets are more useful on the battlefield.
In the eyes of Raina Petkoff, the young romantic idealist who has bought into the stories of battlefield heroism, Saranoff is her ideal hero. However, as the play proceeds, we learn more about this raid and that despite its success, it was a suicidal gesture that should have failed. Eventually Saranoff is going to end up dead if he continues to engage in such ridiculous heroics. Meanwhile, we realize that Bluntshcil has no misconceptions about the stupidity of war and that his actions have kept him alive.
"Arms and the Man" is an early play by Shaw, first performed in 1894, the same year he wrote "Mrs. Warren's Profession.
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Format: Paperback
This play particularly wins you over if you see it performed live with a particularly acerbic, not too tall Bluntschli--it is a romantic farce that critiques Romanticism (but ends up in love with it, although in a roundabout way) and embraces early 20th c Realism and Capitalism, all through some fairly simple but very captivating characters. Good social sendup, a Shaw for people who still have soft hearts and want a quick read.
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Format: Paperback
A starving, exhausted soldier running for his life bursts into a young woman's room, finds outrage, criticism, solace, chocolate creams, and unexpected love -and that's just the opening scene. This clever, witty, subtle, and surprising treat from the author of Pygmalion still holds up well more than 100 years after its writing. Shaw fashions the subjects of false ideals, heroism, romanticism, and the fake glories of war into a well-constructed farce which sustains through the very last line. Can't wait to see a new production of the play, and a great read meanwhile....
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Format: Paperback
One of the most important times,if not the most important,in English literature history was the 19th. century when a plethora of genres of fiction writing were flourishing with gay colours. Victorian literature was perceiving society and its swelling decay from various perspectives,stretching from Charles Dickens's depiction of destitutes and middle-class people to George Eliot's rustic illustration and even as far as Anthony Trollope's revelation of the dark end of the parliamentary tunnel. But a major fraction of the myriad distinguished novelists employed humour and comedy to focus on the social unstability and on conventions and traditionalism. Be it Jane Austen in "Pride and Prejudice" or Oscar Wilde in "The Importance of Being Ernest",humour always plays a distinct role in taming reality and simultaneously mocking it when other means of attack prove futile.

George Bernand Shaw might not be the most serious of prechers of the application of comedy to prove a grave point but in this drama,"Arms and the Man",by the late Victorian playwright,there's a vivid usage of sardonic humour and playful comedy to convey the futility and harm of old-fashioned social analysis. The theme is effectively that of war and love---and by extension marriage---and a combination of both. "Arms and the Man" is a short play of three acts that endeavours to decipher te compatibility between love and war and to portray how these apparently diametrically opposite truths of life are interwoven with each other.

The action takes place in Bulgaria in 1885 against a backdrop of war between bulgarian forces and Serbian and Austrian coalition army. Raina Petkoff is the young,beautiful and dreamy daughter of the Bulgarian Major Petkoff and is engaged to Major Serguis Saranoff who is out in the battles.
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Comedies are often stuck with the unfortunate reputation of having little real depth. Arms and the Man, however, is one of those comedies that proves that notion to be false. Shaw's play is quite the masterpiece of comedic drama, combining an utterly entertaining plot with true philosophical depth.

On the plot level, Arms and the Man is a successful, and somewhat unique, romantic comedy. The young, melodramatic, and rather superficial Raina comes from a military family deeply involved in a war, her fiancé and her father both being officers. She is surprised, though, one night by the arrival of an enemy soldier. She rescues him, knowing that she'll have to keep the episode a secret from her family forever, and the soldier eventually leaves. Of course, once the war is over, that soldier comes back, forcing each of the primary characters to reevaluate their values and their relationships.

It's really quite surprising how Shaw layers meaning within the somewhat standard comedic plot. Shaw manages to comment philosophically on class constructs, on the absurdity of war, and even on the nature of love. And, of course, he does so quite wittily and within a satisfying plot. A lot of times, Arms and the Man is thought of as one of Shaw's lesser plays, but that's really not accurate. There is so much here to think about that I think a lot of people miss. Arms and the Man is truly a masterpiece of comedic theater and is definitely one of Shaw's very finest works.
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