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Back to Methuselah (Penguin plays & screenplays) [Paperback]

George Bernard Shaw

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Paperback, 9 Dec 1971 --  
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Back to Methuselah: A Metabiological Pentateuch Back to Methuselah: A Metabiological Pentateuch
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Book Description

9 Dec 1971 Penguin plays & screenplays
This scarce antiquarian book is a facsimile reprint of the original. Due to its age, it may contain imperfections such as marks, notations, marginalia and flawed pages. Because we believe this work is culturally important, we have made it available as part of our commitment for protecting, preserving, and promoting the world's literature in affordable, high quality, modern editions that are true to the original work.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New impression edition (9 Dec 1971)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140480110
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140480115
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 10.9 x 1.8 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,295,543 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An enlightening read! 20 April 2000
By Abrams - Published on Amazon.com
Back to Methuselah, by Bernard Shaw, was an excellent read. The preface of the book deals with mankind's thoughts, institutions, and most sacred beliefs. Shaw gives a history of the different beliefs regarding the nature of man and the universe. He reveals his own mental struggles and evolution. He portrays the church and its followers as idolaters. This is because they worship god as a portrait of man, a devious and condemning one at that. He is right in saying that their superstitions and legends actually deter people from the divine. This is because when a rational educated man, as he puts it, understands science, he will condemn religion and believe in no god. But, as Shaw exclaims, an irreligious man is no good at all, and may be even worse for the human race. The irreligious man stems from Darwin. Shaw tells the history of Darwin and claims that he never intended on creating such a material reality as evolution. Darwin was merely adding observations of the material realm to the current scientific knowledge. It is the misinterpretation of his work that has led to the faction known as evolutionism. Darwin is not even the founder of the theory of evolution. Lamarck first conceived it. He first proposed Creative Evolution. Which basically says that beings will change. Shaw also gets into politics. He reveals how man's ignorance caused by the legends of religions and evolution have created havoc for mankind. They have created wars because of material greed and religious fanaticism. Both have missed the "Big Picture" altogether. The rest of the book is several comedic plays where Shaw tries to display creative evolution and both mankind's history and future. The opening play takes place in the Garden of Eden. Here is where man began. Adam and Eve are very ignorant creatures playing in the garden. This all changes when Adam discovers a dead fawn and thus death. They learn from the snake about the possibilities of their imagination and their existence. They were once other animals and willed their way to where they were now. The snake puts new words and realities in their heads, and they begin to create a new reality by pure will alone. The snake is not evil. They learn to eat and take in the energy of the land. Adam and Eve fear living for eternity and recapitulate another. Their children are unlike them in the sense that they eat meat and kill. This causes the animals to be scared and build defenses against them. Then murder takes place, and it is all down hill from there. History pretty much goes the way it did in our books where greed and power rule the land. The next play takes place after the First World War. Here, we see the politics of the day and the theory of creative evolution is envisioned in The Gospel of the Brothers Barnabas. The two brothers have the theory that until man can live three hundred years man will continue to suffer. This is because man can not become more than the barbarian materialist that he is. After a period of three hundred years however, man will get bored of the childish fantasies and evolutionize spiritually. This is all mixed in with the politics of the day and a lot of humor. They claim in their gospel that this can happen by merely believing it or willing it. In the next play, That Thing Happens. It is 2170 AD. People from the very last play actually live three hundred years. This happens because they were introduced to the theory and did not doubt it. A man and a woman both discover each other in a political scenario similar to the last act. They are both three hundred years old (they remember each other from before) and have been discovered by the "normal" people. These normal people are very powerful political icons. They both tell their sad stories of having to live many lives and pretending to die. They did this for financial reasons (pensions and what not) and to keep their secret concealed. They are on a completely different "level" than the rest, and regard everyone else as aged children. This was a fact that I became aware of as I have aged. As a child one believes that adults are some mature different race. But one learns that most are merely aged children. I can not imagine being three hundred years old and dealing with short lived ones. (Or maybe I can imagine it J) The next act takes place in 3000 AD. Here we see the plight of the short lived ones in the Tragedy of an Elderly Gentleman. The three hundred-year-olds have claimed their own island away from the rest of the world. They no longer concern themselves with the irrelevant plights of mankind, as we know it. They do interact however. Here we see a group of short lived ones (again very high in politics) coming to seek advise from the oracle. The oracle is merely anyone with enough time on their hands to deal with the short-lived ones. They put on a charade for them because that is what they expect. They treat them well but are very blunt. They even tell them they display a charade of the oracle. They reveal that the short-lived ones could live longer if they only believed. Here we also see the politics of the centenarians. They are struggling with leaving the "norms" alone or destroying them. The oracle answers their questions (as he always does) by telling them they are fools. They are fools because they are concerned with childish desires. We clearly see the difficulties and misunderstandings between the two races. In the final act we pretty much end up where we began, and see As Far as Thought can Reach. Except there is no animals and it is the year 31,920 AD. Humans live forever as in Eden. They can only die by falling or getting struck by lightning. Humans are hatched from eggs at the age of 17, and live four years indulging in their fantasies. After this they grow tired and explore both their minds and the universe. Here they become ancients (they resemble modern day extraterrestrials from encounters, which is interesting) and wander about creating universes in their minds. They eventually become pure life energy (god?). The ancients help the young people when they are needed. But soon lose the capacity for human speech and language. Thus, they no longer can communicate with the humans. We see the struggles the young ones go through. There is also an interesting situation of the young ones creating two human beings. We see the limitations and emotions of our human race in the new creations, and they are eventually destroyed. The soul is the creator and the master. Yet, the body and the material reality become the master of the soul. In the end Adam, Eve, and the serpent have a conversation. They were there all along. They chat about the state of things and their children. Their creator, Lilith, talks to us in the end. She contemplates destroying all and starting fresh. She explains that the ancients are close, so she will be patient. For they soon will become One with her and supersede her. This book is truly a world classic. I find it disheartening that it is no longer printed. I will most likely search a copy out. My personal studies have led me to ponder the points raised in this book before even reading it. Books seem to have a way of finding you. I was once an atheist and a material evolutionist. As Shaw points out, I was kept away from religion because of the myths. I was also fortunate to have parents that did not try to control my mind and thoughts. My studies into math and science, particularly physics, have ironically taken me back to the metaphysical or spiritual. While my journey has just begun, it is books like these that keep hope and faith alive. To be honest, I never imagined reading a book like this in our school system. I could go on forever, and I usually am not this cordial in my writing. It is usually more "scientific", so to speak. Nonetheless, I truly enjoyed this book.
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