Man and Superman and Three Other Plays

BOOK: Man and Superman and Three Other Plays
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Table of Contents
“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't find them, make them.”
(Mrs. Warren's Profession, page 62)
“What is any respectable girl brought up to do but to catch some rich man's fancy and get the benefit of his money by marrying him?—as if a marriage ceremony could make any difference in the right or wrong of the thing!” (Mrs. Warren's Profession, page 65)
“Do you think that the things people make fools of themselves about are any less real and true than the things they behave sensibly about?”
(Candida, page 144)
“God has given us a world that nothing but our own folly keeps from being a paradise.”
page 145)
“All the love in the world is longing to speak; only it dare not, because it is shy, shy, shy. That is the world's tragedy.” (Candida, page 150)
“Man can climb to the highest summits; but he cannot dwell there long.” (Candida, page 176)
“I'm only a beer teetotaller, not a champagne teetotaller. I don't like beer.” (Candida, page 182)
“The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that's the essence of inhumanity.”
The Devil's Disciple
, page 244)
My conscience is the genuine pulpit article: it annoys me to see people comfortable when they ought to be uncomfortable; and I insist on making them think in order to bring them to conviction of sin.
(Shaw's Epistle Dedicatory to Man
Superman, page 302)
“We live in an atmosphere of shame. We are ashamed of everything that is real about us; ashamed of ourselves, of our relatives, of our incomes, of our accents, of our opinions, of our experience, just as we are ashamed of our naked skins. Good Lord, my dear Ramsden, we are ashamed to walk, ashamed to ride in an omnibus, ashamed to hire a hansom instead of keeping a carriage, ashamed of keeping one horse instead of two and a groom-gardener instead of a coachman and footman. The more things a man is ashamed of, the more respectable he is.”
Man and Superman,
page 345)
“I had become a new person; and those who knew the old person laughed at me. The only man who behaved sensibly was my tailor: he took my measure anew every time he saw me, whilst all the rest went on with their old measurements and expected them to fit me.”
Superman, page 368)
“In the arts of life man invents nothing; but in the arts of death he outdoes Nature herself, and produces by chemistry and machinery all the slaughter of plague, pestilence and famine.”
Man and Superma
, page 438)
“It is not death that matters, but the fear of death. It is not killing and dying that degrades us, but base living, and accepting the wages and profits of degradation. Better ten dead men than one live slave or his master.” (Man and Superman, page 442)
“Marriage is a mantrap baited with simulated accomplishments and delusive idealizations.” (Man
Superman, page 453)
“An epoch is but a swing of the pendulum; and each generation thinks the world is progressing because it is always moving.”
Man and Superman
, page 464)

Published by Barnes & Noble Books
122 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY IOOII
Mrs. Warren's Profession
and Candida were first published in 1898, The
Disciple in
1901, and
Man and
Superman in 1903.
Published in 2004 by Barnes & Noble Classics with new Introduction, Notes, and For
Further Reading.
Introduction, Notes, and For Further Reading
Copyright © 2004 by John A. Bertolini.
Note on George Bernard Shaw, The World of George Bernard Shaw,
Inspired by the Plays of George Bernard Shaw, and Comments & Questions
Copyright © 2004 by Barnes & Noble, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or
transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical,
including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and
retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
Barnes & Noble Classics and the Barnes & Noble Classics colophon are
trademarks of Barnes & Noble, Inc.
Three Other Plays
ISBN-13: 978-1-59308-067-9 ISBN-10: 1-59308-067-0
eISBN : 978-1-411-43263-5
LC Control Number 2003 1095 I I
Produced and published in conjunction with:
Fine Creative Media, Inc.
322 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10001
Michael J.
Fine, President & Publisher
Printed in the United States of America
3 57 9 10 8 6 4 2
Dramatist, critic, and social reformer George Bernard Shaw was born on July 26, 1856, into a poor yet genteel Dublin household. His diffident and impractical father was an alcoholic disdained by his mother, a professional singer who ingrained in her only son a love of music, art, and literature. Just shy of his seventeenth birthday, Shaw joined his mother and two sisters in London, where they had settled three years earlier.
There he struggled
and failed—to support himself by writing. He first wrote a string of novels, beginning with the semi autobiographical Immaturity, completed in 1879. Though some of his novels were serialized, none met with great success, and Shaw decided to abandon the form in favor of drama. While he struggled artistically, he flourished politically; for some years his greater fame was as a political activist and pamphleteer. A stammering, shy young man, Shaw nevertheless joined in the radical politics of his day. In the late 188 os he became a leading member of the fledgling Fabian Society, a group dedicated to progressive politics, and authored numerous pamphlets on a range of social and political issues. He often mounted a soapbox in Hyde Park and there developed the enthralling oratory style that pervades his dramatic writing.
In the 1890s, deeply influenced by the dramatic writings of Henrik Ibsen, Shaw spurned the conventions of the stage in “unpleasant” plays, such as Mrs. Warren's Profession, and in “pleasant” ones like Arms
and the Man
His drama shifted attention from romantic travails to the great web of society, with its hypocrisies and other ills. The burden of writing seriously strained Shaw's health; he suffered from chronic migraine headaches. Shaw married fellow Fabian and Irish heiress Charlotte Payne-Townshend.
By the turn of the century, Shaw had matured as a dramatist with the historical drama Caesar
Cleopatra, and his masterpieces Man and Superman and Major
In all, he wrote more than fifty plays, including his anti-war
House and the polemical
Saint Joan,
for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize. Equally prolific in his writings about music and theater, Shaw was so popular that he signed his critical pieces with simply the initials GBS. (He disliked his first name, George, and never used it except for the initial.) He remained in the public eye throughout his final years, writing controversial plays until his death. George Bernard Shaw died at his country home on November 2, 1950
George Bernard Shaw is born on July 26, at 3 Upper Synge Street in Dublin, to George Carr Shaw and Lucinda Elizabeth Gurly Shaw.
George John Vandeleur Lee, Mrs. Shaw's singing instructor, moves into the Shaw household. Known as Vandeleur Lee, he has a reputation as an unscrupulous character.
Embarrassed by controversy and gossip related to his mother's relationship with Vandeleur Lee, young “Sonny,” as Shaw was called by his family, leaves school.
He begins work in a Dublin land agent's office.
Shaw's mother, now a professional singer, follows Vandeleur Lee to London, where they establish a household that in cludes Shaw's sisters, Elinor Agnes and Lucille Frances (Lucy). Shaw's mother tries to earn a living performing and teaching Vandeleur Lee's singing method.
Elinor Agnes dies on March 27 . Shaw joins his mother, his sister Lucy, and Vandeleur Lee in London. Although he tries to support himself as a writer, for the next five years Shaw remains financially dependent on his mother.
Shaw ghostwrites music reviews that appear under Vandeleur Lee's byline in his column for the Hornet, a London news paper. This first professional writing “job” lasts until the ed itor discovers the subterfuge.
Shaw completes and serializes his first novel, Immaturity. He works for the Edison Telephone Company and later will
record his experience in his second novel, The Irrational Knot. Henrik Ibsen's play A
House premieres.
Shaw completes The Irrational Knot.
He becomes a vegetarian in the hope that the change in his diet will relieve his migraine headaches. He completes Love Among Artists. The Irrational Knot is serialized in Our Corner, a monthly periodical.
Shaw hears Henry George's lecture on land nationalization, which inspires some of his socialist ideas. He attends meet ings of the Social Democratic Federation and is introduced to the works of Karl Marx.
The Fabian Society—a middle-class socialist debating group advocating progressive, nonviolent reform rather than the revolution supported by the Social Democratic Federation—is founded in London. Shaw completes the novel Cashel
Byron's Profession,
drawing on his experience as an amateur boxer. He writes his final novel, An Unsocial Socialist.
Shaw joins the fledgling Fabian Society; he contributes to many of its pamphlets, including The
Fabian Manifesto
(18 84), The
Impossibilities of
Anarchism (1893), and Socialism for Mil
(1901), and begins speaking publicly around London on social and political issues. An Unsocial Socialist is serialized in the periodical Today.
The author's father, a longtime alcoholic, dies; neither his estranged wife nor his children attend his funeral. Shaw him self never drinks or smokes. He begins writing criticism of , art, and literature for the
Pall Mall Gazette,
matic Review, and Our Corner. Cashel Byron's Profession is serial ized in the periodical Today.
Shaw begins writing art and music criticism for the World.
Cashel Byron's Profession
is published.
Swedish dramatist and writer August Strindberg's play The Father is performed. The Social Democratic Federation's planned march on Trafalgar Square ends in bloodshed as po
lice suppress the protesters; Shaw is a speaker at the event. His novel An Unsocial Socialist is published in book form.
1888 8
Shaw begins writing music criticism in the Star under the pen name Corno di Bassetto (“basset horn,” perhaps a reference to the pitch of his voice).
He edits the volume
Essays in Socialism, to which he contributes “The Economic Basis of Socialism” and “The Transi tion to Social Democracy.”
Ibsen completes
Hedda Gabler.
Ibsen's Ghosts is performed in London. Shaw publishes The Quintessence of Ibsenism, a polemical pamphlet that celebrates Ibsen as a rebel for leftist causes.
Sidney Webb, a founder and close associate of Shaw, is elected to the London City Council along with five other Fabian Society members. Widowers' Houses, Shaw's first “un pleasant” play, is performed on the London stage.
Shaw writes The Philanderer and
Mrs. Warren's Profession,
his two other “unpleasant” plays. The latter is refused a license by the royal censor because its subject is prostitution; as a result, the play is not performed until 1902. Widowers' Houses is pub lished.
Seeking a wider audience, Shaw begins a series of “pleasant” plays with Arms
the Man, produced this year, and Candida, a successful play about marriage greatly influenced by Ibsen's A Doll's House.
Shaw writes another “pleasant” play, The Man
Destiny, a one act about Napoleon, and drama criticism for the Saturday Re view.
Shaw completes the fourth “pleasant” play, You Never Can Tell. He meets Charlotte Payne-Townshend, a wealthy Irish heiress and fellow Fabian. The Nobel Prizes are established for physics, medicine, chemistry, peace, and literature.
Candida is produced. The Devil's Disciple, a drama set during the American Revolution, is successfully staged in New York.
posthumously. The Sinn Fein party, dedicated to Irish inde pendence, is founded in Dublin.
The Labour Representation Party wins twenty-nine seats and shortens its name to the Labour Party. Henrik Ibsen dies. Shaw's The
Dilemma, a satire on the medical profes sion, is produced.
Shaw writes The
Shewing-Up of
Blanco Posnet and the one-act farce Press Cuttings, both banned by the royal censor.
Shaw writes Misalliance, which he compares to Shakespeare's The Taming
of the
He publishes
and his satire Androcles
the Lion is staged for the first time.
A German language version of
another satire Shaw wrote in 1912, premieres in Vienna.
With World War I imminent, Shaw publishes a polemical antiwar tract, Common Sense About the War, which provokes a popular backlash and public denouncement.
is pro duced for the first time in English.
Dejected over the war, Shaw writes Heartbreak House.
Heartbreak House is published in New York.
The canonization of Joan of Arc gives Shaw the idea for a new play.
House is produced in New York.
Shaw publishes five linked plays begun during the war under the title Back to Methuselah, a dramatic work that begins in the Garden of Eden and ends in the year A . D. 31,920.
Shaw writes Saint Joan, which is produced and hailed as a masterpiece.
Saint Joan is published.
Shaw is awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for
Saint Joan.
He donates the prize money to fund an English translation of the works of August Strindberg.
Shaw publishes his nonfiction The Intelligent Women's Guide to Socialism
Capitalism and writes The Apple Cart, a dramatic comedy set in the future.
The Apple Cart is produced.
Shaw visits Russia, where he meets Josef Stalin and Maxim Gorky. He completes the play Too True to Be Good, which ex plores how war can undermine established morals.
Too True to Be Good is staged for the first time.
An international celebrity, Shaw makes his first trip to Amer ica. On the Rocks and
Wooing are produced.
Shaw writes the plays The Simpleton of the Unexpected Isles, The Six
of Calais,
and the first draft of The Millionairess during a cruise to New Zealand. Simpleton is produced this year.
a play that imagines a successful League of Nations, premieres.
Shaw writes Good King
Golden Days, which is produced this year. He wins an Academy Award for the screen play for Pygmalion, over which he exercised tight control.
His wife, Charlotte, dies after a long illness.
Shaw completes the play The Buoyant Billions.
The Buoyant Billions is produced in Zurich.
Shaw's puppet play, Shakes Versus Shav, is produced.
George Bernard Shaw dies on November 2 from complications related to a fall from a ladder. He bequeaths funds for a competition to create a new English alphabet based on pho netics rather than Roman letters. The competition, won in 1958 by Kingsley Read, results in the Shavian alphabet.
BOOK: Man and Superman and Three Other Plays
13.04Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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