Arms and the Man

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Independently Published, 2018 - 82 pages
Arms and the Man is a comedy by George Bernard Shaw, whose title comes from the opening words of Virgil's Aeneid, in Latin: Arma virumque cano ("Of arms and the man I sing"). The play was first produced on 21 April 1894 at the Avenue Theatre and published in 1898 as part of Shaw's Plays Pleasant volume, which also included Candida, You Never Can Tell, and The Man of Destiny. Arms and the Man was one of Shaw's first commercial successes. He was called onto stage after the curtain, where he received enthusiastic applause. Amidst the cheers, one audience member booed. Shaw replied, in characteristic fashion, "My dear fellow, I quite agree with you, but what are we two against so many?" Arms and the Man is a humorous play that shows the futility of war and deals comedically with the hypocrisies of human nature. The play takes place during the 1885 Serbo-Bulgarian War. Its heroine, Raina Petkoff, is a young Bulgarian woman engaged to Sergius Saranoff, one of the heroes of that war, whom she idolizes. On the night after the Battle of Slivnitza, a Swiss mercenary soldier in the Serbian army, Captain Bluntschli, climbs in through her bedroom balcony window and threatens to shoot Raina if she gives the alarm. When Russian and Bulgarian troops burst in to search the house for him, Raina hides him so that he won't be killed. He asks her to remember that "nine soldiers out of ten are born fools." In a conversation after the soldiers have left, Bluntschli's pragmatic and cynical attitude towards war and soldiering shocks the idealistic Raina, especially after he admits that he uses his ammunition pouches to carry chocolates rather than cartridges for his pistol. When the search dies down, Raina and her mother Catherine sneak Bluntschli out of the house, disguised in one of Raina's father's old coats. The war ends, and the Bulgarians and Serbians sign a peace treaty. Raina's father (Major Paul Petkoff) and Sergius both return home.Author:Bernard Shaw (26 July 1856 - 2 November 1950), known at his insistence simply as Bernard Shaw, was an Irish playwright, critic, polemicist, and political activist who held both Irish and British citizenship. His influence on Western theatre, culture and politics extended from the 1880s to his death and beyond. He wrote more than sixty plays, including major works such as Man and Superman (1902), Pygmalion (1912) and Saint Joan (1923). With a range incorporating both contemporary satire and historical allegory, Shaw became the leading dramatist of his generation, and in 1925 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Born in Dublin, Shaw moved to London in 1876, where he struggled to establish himself as a writer and novelist, and embarked on a rigorous process of self-education. By the mid-1880s he had become a respected theatre and music critic. Following a political awakening, he joined the gradualist Fabian Society and became its most prominent pamphleteer. Shaw had been writing plays for years before his first public success, Arms and the Man in 1894. Influenced by Henrik Ibsen, he sought to introduce a new realism into English-language drama, using his plays as vehicles to disseminate his political, social and religious ideas. By the early twentieth century his reputation as a dramatist was secured with a series of critical and popular successes that included Major Barbara, The Doctor's Dilemma and Caesar and Cleopatra.Shaw's expressed views were often contentious; he promoted eugenics and alphabet reform, and opposed vaccination and organised religion. He courted unpopularity by denouncing both sides in the First World War as equally culpable, and although not a republican, castigated British policy on Ireland in the postwar period. These stances had no lasting effect on his standing or productivity as a dramatist; the inter-war years saw a series of often ambitious plays, which achieved varying degrees of popular success.

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Review: Arms and the Man

User Review  - Lena - Goodreads

Nice lighthearted comedy with a happy ending. Reading it will put you in a good mood. I would like to see it performed. Read full review

Review: Arms and the Man

User Review  - Christine - Goodreads

Silly and predictable. Of course English teachers everywhere try to read too much into it. Eh. I liked Bluntschli. But not Raina. She was silly. And Catherine was the best because I read her voice in ... Read full review

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About the author (2018)

Renowned literary genius George Bernard Shaw was born on July 26, 1856 in Dublin, Ireland. He later moved to London and educated himself at the British Museum while several of his novels were published in small socialist magazines. Shaw later became a music critic for the Star and for the World. He was a drama critic for the Saturday Review and later began to have some of his early plays produced. Shaw wrote the plays Man and Superman, Major Barbara, and Pygmalion, which was later adapted as My Fair Lady in both the musical and film form. He also transformed his works into screenplays for Saint Joan, How He Lied to Her Husband, Arms and the Man, Pygmalion, and Major Barbara. Shaw won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925. George Bernard Shaw died on November 2, 1950 at Ayot St. Lawrence, Hertfordshire, England.

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