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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 Revolutionists Handbook at the end, which contains Shaws 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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