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Widely considered one of the great dramatic creations of the modern stage, "Mother Courage and Her Children" is Bertolt Brecht's most passionate and profound statement against war. Set in the seventeenth century, the play follows Anna Fierling -- "Mother Courage" -- an itinerant trader, as she pulls her wagon of wares and her children through the blood and carnage of Europ Widely considered one of the great dramatic creations of the modern stage, "Mother Courage and Her Children" is Bertolt Brecht's most passionate and profound statement against war. Set in the seventeenth century, the play follows Anna Fierling -- "Mother Courage" -- an itinerant trader, as she pulls her wagon of wares and her children through the blood and carnage of Europe's religious wars. Battered by hardships, brutality, and the degradation and death of her children, she ultimately finds herself alone with the one thing in which she truly believes -- her ramshackle wagon with its tattered flag and freight of boots and brandy. Fitting herself in its harness, the old woman manages, with the last of her strength, to drag it onward to the next battle. In the enduring figure of Mother Courage, Bertolt Brecht has created one of the most extraordinary characters in the literature of drama.


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Widely considered one of the great dramatic creations of the modern stage, "Mother Courage and Her Children" is Bertolt Brecht's most passionate and profound statement against war. Set in the seventeenth century, the play follows Anna Fierling -- "Mother Courage" -- an itinerant trader, as she pulls her wagon of wares and her children through the blood and carnage of Europ Widely considered one of the great dramatic creations of the modern stage, "Mother Courage and Her Children" is Bertolt Brecht's most passionate and profound statement against war. Set in the seventeenth century, the play follows Anna Fierling -- "Mother Courage" -- an itinerant trader, as she pulls her wagon of wares and her children through the blood and carnage of Europe's religious wars. Battered by hardships, brutality, and the degradation and death of her children, she ultimately finds herself alone with the one thing in which she truly believes -- her ramshackle wagon with its tattered flag and freight of boots and brandy. Fitting herself in its harness, the old woman manages, with the last of her strength, to drag it onward to the next battle. In the enduring figure of Mother Courage, Bertolt Brecht has created one of the most extraordinary characters in the literature of drama.

30 review for Mother Courage and Her Children

  1. 5 out of 5

    Steven Godin

    And if you feel your forces fading You won't be there to share the fruits But what is war but private trading That deals with blood instead of boots? Mother Courage, with cart in tow is a wheeler and a dealer, travelling across Europe during the 'Thirty Years War'(1618 – 1648) she has found a way to use the conflict for her own gains, ferociously protective of her children is she, but apart from family values, doesn't have morals for much else, and is all too happy to exploit the various regiments And if you feel your forces fading You won't be there to share the fruits But what is war but private trading That deals with blood instead of boots? Mother Courage, with cart in tow is a wheeler and a dealer, travelling across Europe during the 'Thirty Years War'(1618 – 1648) she has found a way to use the conflict for her own gains, ferociously protective of her children is she, but apart from family values, doesn't have morals for much else, and is all too happy to exploit the various regiments of battle. Her existence is under scrutiny from those around her, but her philosophy is to survive at all costs. There is an inner strength and determination that is admirable, regardless of Courage's actions. She endeavours over the years, even after losing some of her children still remains defiant. "Sometimes I sees myself driving through hell with me cart selling brimstone, or across heaven with packed lunches for hungry souls" Mother Courage (1939) is one of a number of plays Brecht wrote in resistance to Nazism during the invasion of Poland, and the theme of devastation and war are captured with honour and integrity, and expresses the idea that virtues are not rewarded in corrupt and difficult times. I have to admit I have never been a big lover of reading plays, as you simply can't see the whole picture unless seen with your own eyes on stage. Having said that, within the first scene the scene is set for something epic, that had me completely engrossed. I say epic, even though it's compressed into 100 pages or so, the story spans many years, but never feels rushed or clichéd, picking out moments from her life that are at times deeply heartfelt but also scathing in detestation. The family as a whole, including Eilif (the oldest son who goes of to war) and daughter Kattrin (who is mute), are used in the story well, where indignation is never far away. But it's Courage who takes centre stage, a woman with a spirit that will not be crushed by the onslaught of the world around her. I didn't always like Courage, but applaud her valour nonetheless. As for the ending, as in war, there are no happy ones.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    We read Mother Courage in school, and I didn't like it. I thought it was exaggerated, even from the perspective of the raging wars that Brecht could refer to. Which parents would sacrifice their children first? And now I sadly have to announce that I understand Mother Courage. The generation born immediately after the Second World War seems to have forgotten or maybe never known the longterm effects of irresponsible egocentrism, and they are happily sacrificing a whole planet to keep their presti We read Mother Courage in school, and I didn't like it. I thought it was exaggerated, even from the perspective of the raging wars that Brecht could refer to. Which parents would sacrifice their children first? And now I sadly have to announce that I understand Mother Courage. The generation born immediately after the Second World War seems to have forgotten or maybe never known the longterm effects of irresponsible egocentrism, and they are happily sacrificing a whole planet to keep their prestige and their riches and their "revenge" if anybody dares insulting their fragile egos. If you recognise any particular world leader in this description, it is pure coincidence. The Mother Courages of our times are legion. And they don't have the excuse that they are starving or in danger themselves. They are just in their narcissistic bubbles, and want to live their lives safely inside. Après eux, le déluge. Or the bonfire. Quite literally both. Brecht, I hate when you are right.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jan-Maat

    Having escaped from being a background character in Schillers Wallenstein, Mother Courage comes into her own as a true herald of free enterprise. In the middle of the thirty years war (1618-1648) she travels confidently with her wagon full of goods to sell, family and hangers-on. Everybody needs her goods. She can sell intoxicating beverages (view spoiler)[ and anything else (hide spoiler)] to both the Imperial and Protestant soldiers. She is certain that she can always make money and profit from Having escaped from being a background character in Schillers Wallenstein, Mother Courage comes into her own as a true herald of free enterprise. In the middle of the thirty years war (1618-1648) she travels confidently with her wagon full of goods to sell, family and hangers-on. Everybody needs her goods. She can sell intoxicating beverages (view spoiler)[ and anything else (hide spoiler)] to both the Imperial and Protestant soldiers. She is certain that she can always make money and profit from everybody's misery. However her belief in the triumph of market forces blinds her to the fact that her situation, family and hangers-on are the product of the war. That the war is a force beyond her power to control, navigate or even benefit from. This is made abundantly clear to the audience who see her lose everything, but also see her stagger on, eventually alone but for her wagon. A very simple play, works well on radio (view spoiler)[ because that resolves all manner of staging problems as we learn from the play Educating Rita (hide spoiler)] .

  4. 4 out of 5

    Czarny Pies

    As I am writing this review, I am reading the Good Reads description above which is a stunning masterpiece of misstatement: "Widely considered one of the great dramatic creations of the modern stage, "Mother Courage and Her Children" is Bertolt Brecht's most passionate and profound statement against war." Now for the truth. Bertolt Brecht was a communist who wrote parodies to show the workers what is a not to be done. Mother Courage is a vile lower middle class shopkeeper whose obsession with her As I am writing this review, I am reading the Good Reads description above which is a stunning masterpiece of misstatement: "Widely considered one of the great dramatic creations of the modern stage, "Mother Courage and Her Children" is Bertolt Brecht's most passionate and profound statement against war." Now for the truth. Bertolt Brecht was a communist who wrote parodies to show the workers what is a not to be done. Mother Courage is a vile lower middle class shopkeeper whose obsession with her own selfish petty bourgeois concerns brings ruin down upon her family and allows an intolerable environment in which the rich exploit the poor to perpetrate itself. Mother Courage is not a passionate and profound statement against war. It is a call to arms for the oppressed proletariat. Now on to this foul piece of Marxist propaganda which does indeed stage well if misinterpreted as the tragedy of a brave woman trying to fend for family during the 30 years war. Brecht always felt that stereotypes and clichés should be exploited to the maximum. His Mother Courage belongs to the hated category of camp follower; that is to say she was an itinerant peddler who followed armies on their campaigns. Armies on the move needed food, clothing, tobacco, alcohol and whores in order to make life bearable. Consequently multitudes of goods and service providers (as they are called in ECON 100) followed the armies peddling their wares. The camp followers did not see themselves as war profiteers. Rather given that the kings had grabbed all the wealth in the kingdoms to pay for their military campaigns, the poor camp followers had no other way to make a living. Unfortunately, military campaigning was as dangerous for the camp followers as it was for the soldiers who tended to rob and murder the camp followers whenever they lacked the means or the desire to pay for whatever it was they wanted. In highly predictable fashion, Mother Courage's children are killed in this play. At the end, Mother Courage quite alone departs with her peddler's wagon in search of another military campaign. As conventionally staged, Mother Courage is a pathetic and tragic figure. In Brecht's view she simply played a mug's game and lost. She ought to have joined the workers movement and constructed a socialist paradise on earth. This play is tons of fun in a class room as it typically sparks lively debate. I advise theatre goers to take a pass on this one. Bertolt Brecht wrote his best work in a collaboration with Kurt Weill which produced the Rise and Fall of the Empire of Mahagony, the Happy Ending and the Threepenny Opera all of which are absolutely delightful on stage,

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sookie

    War is an addiction. War is business. War is necessity. Brecht uses various voices in this play to reiterate these slogans over and over again. Sometimes by the same character. Written during the times when Nazism and fascism was becoming prominent in Europe, Brecht uses an older European war as a setting to voice his point of view on the growing political crisis during '30s. On one hand Mother Courage is a war profiteer which isn't all that new. She finds a way to keep her family fed by peddlin War is an addiction. War is business. War is necessity. Brecht uses various voices in this play to reiterate these slogans over and over again. Sometimes by the same character. Written during the times when Nazism and fascism was becoming prominent in Europe, Brecht uses an older European war as a setting to voice his point of view on the growing political crisis during '30s. On one hand Mother Courage is a war profiteer which isn't all that new. She finds a way to keep her family fed by peddling food and alcohol to military camps. She follows military camps for years selling things that are hard to come by in a war zone. She, her family and even her business is always at risk of looting or getting killed. Of course she could have simply stayed put in her town and tried to make a living. But that wouldn't have worked out well for a poor woman since the society she lived in was always advantageous for the rich. War would have only made her poorer with all the resources being directed towards war and she followed what basic economics directed her. Follow the war, use war as a client and provide services. Through the course of play, Mother Courage shares her perception on war, morals, virtue, loyalty etc which is almost Brecht talking to people under Nazi regimen. When her eldest son is recruited by the General, she says- "Because he's got to have men of courage, that's why. If he knew how to plan a proper campaign what would he be needing men of courage for? Ordinary ones would do. It's always the same; whenever there's a load of special virtues around it means something stinks." I am on fence on this one. It is hard to ascertain whether Brecht is implying war with a radical propaganda requires what Mother Courage here is talking about or war in general is pointless. Calling out for courage and virtue is propaganda speech while insisting on morality and loyalty is borderline communism. Its quite difficult to understand if Brecht is anti-war or its something else entirely. The irony lies in Mother Courage's view on men fighting the war reducing war to a job provider and soldiers to employees. She adds- "In decent countries folk don't have to have virtues, the whole lot can be perfectly ordinary, average intelligence, and for all I know cowards." Brecht detaches country and its people or more specifically he puts an added responsibility on the leader/king/government. It isn't a system that would hold up or work for a long time and Brecht knows it. It is a throwback to growing number of Nazi supporters and changing mental constitution of the nation itself. Its very tongue in cheek and blatantly disregards '30s propaganda. He wasn't entirely wrong with his argument about choosing the right leader. Along the same line he further says- "The war will always find an outlet, mark my words. Why should it ever stop?" Really, why should it? Conflicts have always existed and a war is always on in some part of the globe. It just changes route, gives birth to a newer war and a bunch of newer conflicts. In our lifetime we have already seen this happening and right now as I write this review I hear a news anchor talk about the continuing attacks on Europe. Mother Courage loses her children to war or by products of war. Its the final scene that makes the entire play truly tragic. Mother Courage's daughter, only living child of hers, dies. Mother Courage asks the village folk to take care of the corpse as she has to move on with her business to find another camp. This, for me, negated the entire experience that Brecht had so carefully fulfilled till then. Brecht makes her bow to the only life that she has ever known and continue to be a part of a system that she truly abhors. It is hard to feel sympathy for this character and reconcile with the fact that she moves on with peddling. It is evident Brecht wanted her to be a victim of war just how her children were. In her case, in any moment, she could have stopped. But she didn't. Maybe that's what Brecht's intentions were. One cannot really stop being part of war just because one wants to. Too sad.

  6. 5 out of 5

    michelle

    No. Just no.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jill Mackin

    Brilliant.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Valentina Markasović

    A book I had to read for school, but by the time I realized it was due on Monday, it was Sunday evening and I couldn't find the book anywhere so I found it in on the Internet in English. Interesting experience. The book itself was also engaging because of its simple yet interesting writing. I especially liked the inserted songs, so different from the typical choir in the famed antique works.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. (view spoiler)[ Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)] (view spoiler)[ Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)]

  10. 4 out of 5

    ➸ Gwen de Sade

    I read a lot of books this year with the same message: war is absurd, war destroys everything and afterwards, no one knows exactly what they were fighting for. I don't even know why I read so many books on the subject, I usually really don't like WWII or generally war literature, it just makes me deeply uncomfortable and depressive. I've been avoiding Anne Frank for the last 5 years for example, although it is patiently sitting on my shelf. However, once again, Brecht is different, different than I read a lot of books this year with the same message: war is absurd, war destroys everything and afterwards, no one knows exactly what they were fighting for. I don't even know why I read so many books on the subject, I usually really don't like WWII or generally war literature, it just makes me deeply uncomfortable and depressive. I've been avoiding Anne Frank for the last 5 years for example, although it is patiently sitting on my shelf. However, once again, Brecht is different, different than anything I ever read on the subject. He is such a genius, I don't even have words to describe him. Full review to come as soon as I have a little time and I'm on my laptop.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    And here we have another high contestant for the Most Boring Play I've had to read for theatre classes. I can't even say that Mother Courage was awful or horrible, because it was just so boring. I have no idea what the point of this play is. Well, that's not true, I know what its aim is, but is it working? Has this play moved me in an unemotional way, urging me to rethink my life and my choices and take action, as was the purpose of Brecht's theatre? Ehhh no. All it did was put me to sleep. Also, And here we have another high contestant for the Most Boring Play I've had to read for theatre classes. I can't even say that Mother Courage was awful or horrible, because it was just so boring. I have no idea what the point of this play is. Well, that's not true, I know what its aim is, but is it working? Has this play moved me in an unemotional way, urging me to rethink my life and my choices and take action, as was the purpose of Brecht's theatre? Ehhh no. All it did was put me to sleep. Also, how do you expect me to take anything seriously from a play with a character named Swiss Cheese?

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rhys

    A play of devastating power and unbearable structural symmetry, as Mother Courage, a small time war profiteer fails to learn anything from a sequence of tragedies and continues onwards hoping to find business opportunities, whereas in fact it's only the rich who can make a profit from such misery. Morality and politics and truth are all identical in this magnificent work.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Depressing! During college I had to design the costumes for this play and all the colors I chose were drab blues and grays. I think that adequately sums up the tone of this Brecht piece.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

    Read this because it was quick, but I didn't like this one. I thought the characters names were interesting. I'm noticing I don't care for war-related plays.

  15. 5 out of 5

    david

    Okay. We all understand what war is. Fighting; between siblings, countries, rulers, children, co-workers, husband and wife, bosses and employees. And on and on. We do not always play nice with each other. And conceptually, that is what causes us to hurt, inflict damage on another. Or, we can passively retreat and move forward. I choose the latter. I am too philosophical to consider the merits of the minutiae of the entanglements that regularly persists in any altercation. Did Brecht make his point o Okay. We all understand what war is. Fighting; between siblings, countries, rulers, children, co-workers, husband and wife, bosses and employees. And on and on. We do not always play nice with each other. And conceptually, that is what causes us to hurt, inflict damage on another. Or, we can passively retreat and move forward. I choose the latter. I am too philosophical to consider the merits of the minutiae of the entanglements that regularly persists in any altercation. Did Brecht make his point on the morality of natural existence through this play? Who knows and who cares. Was it the ‘most brilliant anti-war product ever produced for stage?’ I am not sure. The symbolism is there, the pedestrian is perceptible, the subject matter is clear, and the audience is allowed to sit and watch others of its kind without effect. Very similar to reading about the Syrian crisis from your bedroom in New York, Tokyo, London. Not a great piece of work to me. Surely not the best of its’ genre. But most intellectuals would argue that point with me. Except, I ain't that smart and I do not like to debate. I choose peace and love which are equally suspect, but preferable.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Akemi

    Soon after I finished reading this for class, I saw a documentary on a production of Mother Courage in Central Park using a translation done by Tony Kushner. Apparently Kushner read Mother Courage in college and loved it. Can't say I had quite the same reaction. Maybe it's more effective on stage, but I wasn't really moved by this play. Perhaps because it is so repetitive in its theme of Mother Courage's relentless business sense over family. I don't know. It has its funny moments, one of the ch Soon after I finished reading this for class, I saw a documentary on a production of Mother Courage in Central Park using a translation done by Tony Kushner. Apparently Kushner read Mother Courage in college and loved it. Can't say I had quite the same reaction. Maybe it's more effective on stage, but I wasn't really moved by this play. Perhaps because it is so repetitive in its theme of Mother Courage's relentless business sense over family. I don't know. It has its funny moments, one of the character's names is Swiss Cheese, and it certainly has some emotional high points, like Kattrin's beating of the drum, but it just didn't strike a chord with me. Strange, because I normally love plots centering on a family. I guess the play is only ostensibly about a family- it's really just about Mother Courage herself. MOTHER COURAGE: Thank the Lord they're corruptible. After all, they ain't wolves, just humans out for money. Corruption in humans is same as compassion in God. Corruption's our only hope.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dorottya

    As much as I love theatre, there is a rare occasion when a written play gets to my heart in that extent. Now, this one wasone of them. I loved how multi-faceted and multi-tiered it was. I don't even know if it could be turned into a perfect performance in my eye, especially because of the variedness of interpretations. I loved how it dealt with the effect of war on people, like having to make heartbreaking decisions to survive and being surprised that what was acceptable or even heroic to do in t As much as I love theatre, there is a rare occasion when a written play gets to my heart in that extent. Now, this one wasone of them. I loved how multi-faceted and multi-tiered it was. I don't even know if it could be turned into a perfect performance in my eye, especially because of the variedness of interpretations. I loved how it dealt with the effect of war on people, like having to make heartbreaking decisions to survive and being surprised that what was acceptable or even heroic to do in times of war is actually considered a sin in times of peace. And I loved the many faces of Mother Courage. How she was a loving mother (I mean, in her own way, of course), a person not learning from her won faults, a vendor addicted to bargaining and a person making weird-sounding/looking decisions. It is just... you know, when you do not agree with a character, and see their flaws, but atthe same time, understand them... now, this was what I felt about her.

  18. 5 out of 5

    F

    I read this 40 years ago or more. Coming back to it, I realised how much I had missed the first time round, and how powerful a play it is. Written by Brecht in exile just before the Second World War, and given its first performance in Germany in the late 1940s, his attempt to tackle questions such as 'mitmachen'/collaboration and 'war as business' entertain his audience/reader as well as stimulating them to profound reflection. He does not give clear answers. I think his intention is not to prov I read this 40 years ago or more. Coming back to it, I realised how much I had missed the first time round, and how powerful a play it is. Written by Brecht in exile just before the Second World War, and given its first performance in Germany in the late 1940s, his attempt to tackle questions such as 'mitmachen'/collaboration and 'war as business' entertain his audience/reader as well as stimulating them to profound reflection. He does not give clear answers. I think his intention is not to provide 'realistic' lovable appealing characters. He uses drama as a means to think and to provoke thought and Mutter Courage does this in buckets for me. I will be rereading this and hoping to see it performed.I have seen it staged previously, but not recently.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    From BBC Radio 4 Extra: Mother Courage follows warring armies with her travelling canteen - selling provisions - but at what cost? Sheila Hancock stars as Anna Fierling, nicknamed "Mother Courage". One of the great plays of the 20th century, written just before the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, it was penned as a warning to those who sought to profit from war. As Bertolt Brecht was to do often, he took one era to stand for another, setting Mother Courage during the Thirty Year War. The From BBC Radio 4 Extra: Mother Courage follows warring armies with her travelling canteen - selling provisions - but at what cost? Sheila Hancock stars as Anna Fierling, nicknamed "Mother Courage". One of the great plays of the 20th century, written just before the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, it was penned as a warning to those who sought to profit from war. As Bertolt Brecht was to do often, he took one era to stand for another, setting Mother Courage during the Thirty Year War. The music used in the production is the original score written for the first performances by Paul Dessau. Directed by Jeremy Mortimer. First broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in 1990.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Anna Serene

    I legitimately don't know how to feel about this book. So I'm giving it 2.5 stars because I just don't know.

  21. 5 out of 5

    indeedox

    Meh.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kshitij Chaurel

    Loved this play.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dayton Shanahan

    Mother courage and her children is a book that takes place in 1624, during a time of war. In the beginning of the book, mother courage pulls up to a sergeant and recruiting officer who are trying to recruit soldiers into the swedish army because they are campaigning in Poland. Mother courage has a daughter, Kattrin, who is dumb, and two sons, Eilif and "Swiss Cheese". So anyways they pull up in a wagon to the recruiting officer, and he tries to recruit Eilif into the army. Mother Courage tells h Mother courage and her children is a book that takes place in 1624, during a time of war. In the beginning of the book, mother courage pulls up to a sergeant and recruiting officer who are trying to recruit soldiers into the swedish army because they are campaigning in Poland. Mother courage has a daughter, Kattrin, who is dumb, and two sons, Eilif and "Swiss Cheese". So anyways they pull up in a wagon to the recruiting officer, and he tries to recruit Eilif into the army. Mother Courage tells him to leave her kids alone and Eilif says that he actually does want to join the army so it is ok. Mother courage goes to tell the fate of all of her children and predicts that all of them will die for their individual qualities. as the sergeant talks to mother courage and tries to distract her, the recruiting officer takes her son, Eilif away. time has passed, it is now 1624, and Eilif is still in the army. mother courage shows up at the swedish commanders quarters and is talking to the cook and listening to the commander and eilif talk. she realized that the campaigning must not be going well if the swedish need "brave soldiers" so she is upset, she meets up with her son Eilif again. once again time has passed, now it is 3 years later (time is kind of weird in this book i think) the commander and the cook are talking about politics and suddenly the enemy of the army (catholics) launch an attack. then it changes til 3 days afterwords as Mother courage and the commander go to town. swiss gets arrested and when mother returns, they pretend not to know eachother. later that night, mother courage comes into the kitchen where her daughter is rinsing dishes excitedly saying that she can buy her sons freedom back... for the sense of time i will skip to the end of the book, know that there is a lot of content in the middle of the story that i have skipped, so do not take this review as a plot overview, sense so much has been left out, also for spoiler purposes. as the war campaigning goes on, things escalate into battles and serious things... the catholic men end up killing all of mother courage's children and she is out for revenge... the book closes with her riding off in her wagon after the regiment that killed her daughter. so yes, i skipped a lot in the middle. basically this was mother courage riding around town as soldiers kill her children. i did not enjoy this book. all of the jumping around (as in years and such) got annoying and i found this book in general to just be all around boring. i suppose this is a story around a mother who cares for her kids in a time of war and everything goes as war does, kids die, mother is sad, mother goes after her kids killers. i would not reccomend this book to a friend. the story had me dragging along just to get to the end and in the end there was no satisfaction. everyone dies, and the journy along the way is not entertaining.

  24. 4 out of 5

    vi macdonald

    Bertolt Brecht was a genius - completely turning theatre on it's head, shattering conventions and spitting in the face of the establishment. Mother Courage and Her Children might is almost certainly the best of his work I've read thus far, though I've yet to not like anything of his I've read. Strongly recommend!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    I didn't have much of an opinion on this when I first read it, but now that I have seen a live production, my opinion of it (and esteem for it) has increased tenfold. After all, plays are meant to be seen.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Hayfa

    Brecht's works were never intended to be aesthetically pleasing, nor were they meant to be witty. Their sole aim was to teach and instruct the common man in particular, this common man who is too emotional and blind to be able to draw a lesson from a classical Aristotelian play. Brecht's "Verfremdungseffekte" or "alienation effects" keep the audience watchful and attentive. In his plays, there are always actors addressing members of the audience (breaking the fourth wall), others speaking from do Brecht's works were never intended to be aesthetically pleasing, nor were they meant to be witty. Their sole aim was to teach and instruct the common man in particular, this common man who is too emotional and blind to be able to draw a lesson from a classical Aristotelian play. Brecht's "Verfremdungseffekte" or "alienation effects" keep the audience watchful and attentive. In his plays, there are always actors addressing members of the audience (breaking the fourth wall), others speaking from downstage or backstage. There are actors performing more than one role, or changing their outfits in front of the audience. All this is for the sake of alienating the audience and keeping them aware of the process of acting. Brecht believed that this alienation technique would make it easier for people to grasp the real message of the play without being too much involved in the events. In Mother Courage, there is all this and more. However, I've read that Brecht had to make many adjustments in the play after it had been performed because the figure of Mother Courage was a quite complicated one. Although it is clear throughout the play that her primary goal is to heap wealth and benefit from the war, she still manifests her motherly side by constantly expressing her great concern about her childern's lives (instead of really attempting to save them). Brecht feared lest this motherly side of hers would incite feelings of sympathy among the audience. And of course, if there was one thing this man hated, it was SYMPATHY during a theatrical performance ! So he kept editing the text, removing the ambiguity around this character till he managed to present her as an opportunist who does not really care about family and peace as much as she cares about money. This play shows how war is not just about politics, but also about money. Even during the darkest times of war, there would always be a Mother Courage who would prefer wealth over humaneness, and war over peace. Mother Courage bluntly expresses grief upon hearing that peace is settled in the area, and is soon relieved when murders are taking place again near her. Mother Courage and Her Children is not what I would call a fun read (actually, it's far from being so), but one has to read Brecht at some point in life. *whispers* : I don't intend to read another of his plays. Watching his plays may be a good idea, though

  27. 4 out of 5

    Anup Joshi

    Enjoyed reading this play

  28. 5 out of 5

    Madison Kinsella

    I studied Brecht whilst at college and was lucky enough to see Dame Diana Rigg play Mother Courage on stage at the National Theatre (in 1995 if I remember correctly, along with a young Martin Freeman!) and I found the story itself quite boring at the time until I had seen it live with the characters fleshed out. This gave me a renewed interest in the story and so I appreciated it more when I re-read it (which was a few times as it was part of the curriculum!). The story itself is very anti-war, a I studied Brecht whilst at college and was lucky enough to see Dame Diana Rigg play Mother Courage on stage at the National Theatre (in 1995 if I remember correctly, along with a young Martin Freeman!) and I found the story itself quite boring at the time until I had seen it live with the characters fleshed out. This gave me a renewed interest in the story and so I appreciated it more when I re-read it (which was a few times as it was part of the curriculum!). The story itself is very anti-war, and we see the protagonist trying to survive the thirty-years war by trading with anyone and everyone (no matter their faction) with her cart and her three children... This is a tragic story that has a very poignant lesson to it - which to me shows that no-one profits financially or emotionally during wartime - reminiscent of the film 'All Quiet On The Western Front'.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Savage

    Historical fiction written as fascism was rising in 20th century Europe, it is just as much a tale of living in the heart of the U.S. empire and its perpetual wars in 2013. I first read this in college and everytime I re-read it I understand more deeply.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kersi

    after Bahnwärter Thiel the best (older) novel I ever had to read for school! i completely adore some of the characters, of course especially Kattrin, and the writing style in the original german text is amazing and not even to complicated.

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