Exclusive to Penguin Classics: the definitive text of one of Shakespeare’s most affecting plays—part of the official Bernard Shaw Library
A Penguin Classic
In a cheeky nod to Shakespeare’s towering reputation, Shaw reinvents two of his historical characters but sets his own play in a period predating both Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra. Shaw’s Cleopatra is a kittenish girl with a streak of cruelty, while his Caesar is a world-weary philosopher-soldier who is as much a stranger in Rome as in the barbaric court of Egypt. With wit, irony, and an undertone of melancholy, Caesar and Cleopatra satirizes Shakespeare’s use of history and comments wryly on the politics of Shaw’s own time.
This is the definitive text prepared under the editorial supervision of Dan H. Laurence. The volume includes Shaw’s preface of 1900.
George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950) is one of the world’s greatest literary figures. Born in Dublin, Ireland, he left school at fourteen and in 1876 went to London, where he began his literary career with a series of unsuccessful novels. In… More about George Bernard Shaw
“[Shaw] did his best in redressing the fateful unbalance between truth and reality, in lifting mankind to a higher rung of social maturity. He often pointed a scornful finger at human frailty, but his jests were never at the expense of humanity.”—Thomas Mann
“Shaw will not allow complacency; he hates second-hand opinions; he attacks fashion; he continually challenges and unsettles, questioning and provoking us even when he is making us laugh. And he is still at it. No cliché or truism of contemporary life is safe from him.” —Michael Holroyd
“In his works Shaw left us his mind. . . . Today we have no Shavian wizard to awaken us with clarity and paradox, and the loss to our national intelligence is immense.” —The Sunday Times “He was a Tolstoy with jokes, a modern Dr. Johnson, a universal genius who on his own modest reckoning put even Shakespeare in the shade.” —The Independent
“His plays were superb exercises in high-level argument on every issue under the sun, from feminism and God, to war and eternity, but they were also hits—and still are.”—The Daily Mail