arms and the man

BOOK REVIEW: Arms And The Man By George Bernard Shaw

Genre: Classics

Buy: Amazon

This book is responsible for making me believe (for a while) that ‘writing a novel is an easy task.’ Of course, now I know that writing a novel or even a blog post isn’t that easy.

Secondly, ‘Arms And The Man By George Bernard Shaw’ is not a novel, it’s a play. Despite reading it a couple of times, I realized my mistake only after reading ‘The Guide by R. K. Narayan.’

Following are some other reasons for not realizing ‘my mistake’ sooner:

1. I viewed it as a subject book, hence had no desire or intention to ever attempt reading it. But had to, read it, along with the other subject books, because I didn’t want to fail the exams.

2. Neither the title nor the book cover is appealing enough to attract a romance-crazy reader.

3. The by-line boldly describes the play as ‘Anti-Romantic Comedy.’

‘Arms And The Man By George Bernard Shaw’ ~~ Synopsis:

‘The Anti-Romantic Comedy’ opens perfectly soaked in romance, to my surprise.

The female protagonist, Raina Petkoff is weaving romantic dreams about her fiancé Major Sergius Saranoff. Raina gets lost in her dream world when her mother, Catherine Petkoff informs her about Sergius’s bravery on the battlefield.

Instead of going to bed, Raina stays up for a while. She hears a couple of gunshots and then notices a man entering her room through the half-closed balcony door.

It’s a hostage situation that changes when the man, Captain Bluntschli, a professional soldier who’s being chased by the Bulgarian army, and Raina begins to converse.

Bluntschli informs Raina that war isn’t romantic. Many soldiers fight for money and most are afraid of dying; experienced ones do whatever it takes to save their lives.

Bluntschli also breaks Raina’s romantic ideas of her fiancé. He informs Raina that Sergius foolishly led his cavalry to a certain death, but escaped because the Serbian army didn’t have enough ammunition to fight.

Though, the information provided by Bluntschli infuriates Raina, she still provides Bluntschli, safe escape route with the help of her mother.

They meet again, on the day when her father, Major Petkoff and fiancé returns from the war. Bluntschli arrives to return the coat that had helped him escape virtually unnoticed from their home.

Raina’s mother tries to hasten his visit, but Major Petkoff notices Bluntschli & asks him to stay. Everyone in the house, who’s even remotely aware of the Bluntschli incident, pretends not to recognize him.

In the end, everything turns out fine for everyone involved. Just like it always does in romance novels, but remember it’s not a romance novel. It’s a play that too an ‘Anti-Romantic’ play.

Quote worthy of mention:“Sergius: I am no longer a soldier. Soldiering, my dear madam, is the coward’s art of attacking mercilessly when you are strong and keeping out of harms’ way when you are weak. That is the whole secret of successfully fighting. Get your enemy at a disadvantage; and never, on any account, fight him on equal terms.” ~~ George Bernard Shaw (Book: Arms and the Man)

What’s Sizzling:

Louka’s strong, independent and ambitious character; of course, Raina’s romantic, naive & flighty character, has it’s own charm.

What’s Not Sizzling:

The book cover, I still wish I can change it. Still wondering about ‘flighty’ characters of Raina and Sergius. They don’t know what they want and change their mind about ‘who to marry’ as if it’s a trivial matter.


‘Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw’ is an intriguing, entertaining and thought-provoking read.

Happy Reading!

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Passionate Book Reviews

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