INTRODUCTION NO 1
Shaw was already a celebrity arts critic and socialist lecturer when he wrote Arms and the Man in 1894. One of Shaw’s earliest attempts at writing for the theatre, it was also his first commercial success as a playwright. Although it played for only one season at an avant-garde theatre, thanks to the financial backing of a friend, it was later produced in America in 1895. Accustomed to the melodramas of the age, however, even sophisticated audiences often did not discern the serious purpose of Shaw’s play. Thus, Shaw considered it a failure.
True success did not come until 1898, when Arms and the Man was published as one of the “pleasant” plays in Shaw’s collection called Plays: Pleasant and Unpleasant, and it subsequently gained popularity as a written work. Included in this collection of plays are lengthy explanatory prefaces, which note significant issues in the plays and which have been invaluable to critics. In place of brief stage directions, Shaw’s plays also included lengthy instructions and descriptions. Another unique aspect of Arms and the Man was its use of a woman as the central character.
Set during the four-month-long Serbo-Bulgarian War that occurred between November 1885 and March 1886, this play is a satire on the foolishness of glorifying something so terrible as war, as well as a satire on the foolishness of basing your affections on idealistic notions of love. These themes brought reality and a timeless lesson to the comic stage. Consequently, once Shaw’s genius was recognized, Arms and the Man became one of Shaw’s most popular plays and has remained a classic ever since.
INTRODUCTION NO 2
Arms and the Man…Written by George Bernard Shaw…Pages….. 82 pages
Date premiered April 21, 1894
Place premiered Avenue Theatre
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 (“Arms and the man I sing”).The play was first produced on April 21, 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. The play was one of Shaw’s first commercial successes. He was called onto stage after the curtain, where he received enthusiastic applause. However, 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 which shows the futility of war and deals with the hypocrisies of human nature in a comedic fashion.
Considered one of the greatest English-speaking dramatist since Shakespeare, George Bernard Shaw was born July 26, 1856, in Dublin, Ireland, and had a long and productive life. He was the only son and youngest of three children born to George Carr and Lucinda Elizabeth Gurly Shaw, who were Irish Protestant gentry. Shaw’s education involved tutoring from an uncle and at a series of schools, but he quit school at fifteen to work in an estate agent’s office for five years. In 1876, he went to London to join his sister and his mother, who had left Shaw’s alcoholic father to pursue careers as a music teacher and opera singer.
Shaw was supported by his mother and sister as he wrote five unsuccessful novels. In 1888, he became the music critic for a newspaper, and then in 1895, he took a position as the drama critic at the Saturday Review, a position he held for three years. A devotee of Henrik Ibsen, he wrote The Quintessence of Ibsenism (1890) and modeled his own works after the individualism and the moral and social issues that he saw in Ibsen’s drama. Through his own plays, Shaw is credited with creating the “drama of ideas.” Among his best-known plays are Arms and the Man (1894), Saint Joan (1923), Man and Superman (1905), Major Barbara (1905), Candida (1897), and Pygmalion (first English production in 1914; it was produced in German translation in 1913). Pygmalion was made into a movie, for which Shaw won an Academy Award for best screenplay in 1938. The play was later made into a musical, My Fair Lady (1964), with book and score by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Lowe; the musical version retained the plot, characters, and many of the lines from the original play.
In 1898, Shaw married Charlotte Francis Payne-Townshend, an Irish heiress. Their marriage lasted until her death in 1943. A vegetarian, teetotaler, and fervent socialist, Shaw championed the causes of women and the poor. He was an active member in the Fabian Society, which proposed gradual, nonrevolutionary socialist reforms in the structure of society and the economy. In 1895, with Sidney and Beatrice Webb, he helped establish the London School of Economics.Shaw wrote numerous pamphlets and kept busy as a lecturer on issues in politics, economics, and sociology. He was also a prolific letter writer. Greatly criticized for his opposition to World War I, Shaw was eventually forgiven by the public as his predictions about the conflict came true and people started to
understand the true nature of war. In 1925, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature. He died November 2, 1950, at his home in Hertfordshire, England. He left his fortune to the movement for rational spelling, the British Library, and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts
FOR MORE NOTES ON BERNARD SHAW’S BIOGRAPHY PLEASE SEE HERE…INTRODUCTION-BIOGRAPHY
- Original Text (act 1) of “Arms and the Man” for Waec/neco Literature Exams.(68) (lagosbooksclub.wordpress.com)
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- Original Text (act Iii) of “Arms and the Man” for Waec/neco Literature Exams.(70) (lagosbooksclub.wordpress.com)