Friday, May 01, 2009

quick review

Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder
(Mother Courage and Her Children)

First performed in Zurich in 1939 for an audience of pacifist and anti-fascist German expatriates, the play is a praise song of sending children to their deaths.
Of course not. Silly. What do you expect from Brecht?
The setting is the 30-Year war (17th Century, Europeans killing each other in order to decide which cut of clerical dress represents a more direct line to God).
The characters are not one-, but two-dimensional, not bad for Mr. Didactic. The mother (I first heard of Niobe in this context: look her up and impress your friends!) is also a war-profiteering capitalist; the cook is also a womanizer; the preacher is also a coward; the grown children she loses have less depth: Strong, Honest, and Innocent.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Brecht and enjoy the occasional preachiness. And slogans like
Peace is sloppy, only war creates order.

Wherever there are great virtues, it only proves that something is rotten.

always find a willing audience in me.
And I can't find the quote right now, but there was also a bit where the preacher said that Jesus first multiplied the loaves and the wine and then taught brotherly love because it’s easier to love your neighbor on a full stomach. All classic Brechtian ideas which appeal to the Undergrad Idealist in me.
A worthwhile read, but it doesn’t oust the Three-Penny Opera as my favorite.

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