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10 thoughts on “Der Dreigroschenroman

  1. Lisa Lisa says:

    Und der Haifisch der hat Zähne Well I think there are only a few authors who deserve the rare combination of the adjective hilarious with the serious topic social criticism One of them is Kurt Vonnegut and the other Bertolt Brecht Brecht is commonly known for his plays than for this masterpiece of a novel and I have postponed rereading it for years thinking I knew my Brecht and wouldn't need a refresher However just like most really good books this one grows with the experience of the reader and I found myself laughing out loud several times reading about the financial crimes and sexual misbehaviours that are so well documented in our own times that it seems almost impossible to think Brecht didn't know anything about Trump and Brexit and the impact of social media on the human speciesWhere there is money up for grabs there won't be any decency that is his theory and it is a uite convincing one But there will be big words to counterbalance the lack of honourable action Brecht has all the best words and he uses them freely to follow the development of Polly Peachum Macheath and the restBegging is business just like politics O tempora o s

  2. Paul Bryant Paul Bryant says:

    A three star rating for a novel I abandoned – that needs a word or two of explanation At first I thought this was going to be a great sardonic sarcastic mordant funny evisceration of the dog eat dog life of Victorian capitalism told through three intertwining tales of skullduggery that reveal how this whole thing is a racket from the tippy toppest of Her Majesty’s government down to the groveling no legged beggar on the streets of Shoreditch And it is But it goes completely wrong And the humour drains away into a small puddle that a one eyed three legged cat drinks from So first we get a one legged soldier returning from the wars who fails in the retail trade and becomes a beggar only to find that London beggars are mostly controlled by a certain Mr Peachum He runs an establishment that provides all a beggar could need – false bottomed trolleys for men with two legs to be able to pose as no legged and thin dogs for the blind beggars Thin? Thin Their feeding was not at all simple; they had to look as miserable as possible and therefore had to be maintained on the verge of starvation A blind man with a fat dog has very little prospect of exciting real pity The public naturally reasons uite instinctively Scarcely anyone looks at a thin dog; but if by chance the animal is well fed some sort of inner voice warns the giver that he might just as well throw his money down the drain It is a fact that these people unconsciously seek a reason to withhold their money A good dog must scarcely be able to stand up for weaknessNow that’s a brilliant passage and probably applies today All of Britain’s major cities including my own have many beggars huddling in empty shop doorways all with their dogs These modern beggars are not blind of course they are homeless But their dogs are not thin They are very well kept Our contemporary beggars need to read their BrechtAlso our author has some great sly descriptions of his characters Here’s Polly Peachum She looked very pretty in her flimsy dress and was completely at her ease As a matter of fact she was no doll but a large well formed girl She was a full helping and no half portionSo with good stuff like that in this novel what could possibly go wrong?After describing Peachum’s beggar business Brecht turns to something called the B Shops – a late Victorian version of the Pound Shops we have here in the UK These are run by our old friend MacHeath – Mack the Knife You will remember him as a suave lethal gangster When that shark bites with his teeth babeScarlet billows start to spreadFancy gloves wears old MacHeath babeSo there's never never a trace of redBut in this novel he’s a middle aged paunchy businessman So there’s a whole lot of complicated stuff about how he gets the cheap knock off to sell in his B shops and that gets really dull Then in comes the major complication This is a scheme by a third guy called Coax to defraud the government by selling them three clapped out ships for the ongoing Boer War Once Coax has coaxed seven greedy businessmen including Peachum into his defrauding scheme it turns out to be a honeytrap – it turns out that the real con is when he blackmails his business partners Brecht gets completely lost in the details of all these ever intertwined and complex business imbroglios and leaves the reader behind The sharp observations and wicked humour die away It becomes ever abstract ever turgid It becomes boring It becomes very clear why Bertholt Brecht didn’t write another novel He didn’t know how to

  3. Lee Foust Lee Foust says:

    Anyone who has ever even considered voting right wing should be tied to a chair and forced to remain seated until they have read this devastating novelistic critiue of business banking imperialism exploitation murder and poverty All of your favorite Brechtian uotations are here What is a bank robbery compared with the founding of a bank and all of the viscous wit and irony you would expect from the world's most entertaining political writer The novel really is an amazing panorama of the horror of a society based upon hierarchical exploitation in which The dying man dies and the sick man fights as our anti hero MacHeath puts it what he really means is you will do anything for a buck and screw anybody in any way who gets in your way of doing whatever is necessary to get that buckIt's to Brecht's credit that a book this sad is at the same time also uite funny Some passages are both hysterical and devastating; MacHeath's discovery that profit sharing actually earns him rather than less money Peachum's reasoning out that murder is the most efficient form of business or his discovery of insurance as a means of sueezing even blood money from the poor the history of the Rothchild's bank disarming the world by being honest in business they make a fortune simply because no one else has ever done that before and the fabulous set piece of Fewkoombey's dream trial at the end which takes on the preacher's exposition of Jesus' parable of the talents as God's commandment for all of us to live everyday as unprincipled capitalists or hapless slaves whatever our lot may be It's cultural satire at its best and opens up our empathy or should through irony a hard thing to accomplish since the Reagan years and the death of empathy through ironyOn the downside the novel is too long really for a modern reader I think The seemingly endless business machinations of MacHeath and Peachum go on for far too long to hold our interest even if they are minutely described from all points of view in order to show us that no character ever understands another character's reasons for doing anything that they do Hell half the time the characters even misinterpret WHAT the other characters are doing This is funny at first but wears us down in minutia after a while Obviously my own view of the imperialistcapitalist machine is uite close to Brecht's so I blithely nodded through those passages until I got to the great set pieces and found my self laughing out loud freuently It's worth the wade

  4. Matthew Matthew says:

    There is often a curious dramatic tension in the literature produced by Marxist and socialist writers In theory the writers subscribe to an optimist political belief system that predicts us heading for a world of greater fairness and euality for all However the actual fiction produced by many socialist writers is of a pessimistic nature depicting the triumph of their enemies and showing society in a sordid and degraded lightThere are exceptions William Morris is capable of writing Utopia and George Bernard Shaw is not ashamed to discuss higher topics such as religion and philosophy Saint Joan Man and Superman although some of his earlier works deal with the world of slum housing and prostitutionThreepenny Novel is similarly set in this rather grim world in which there are no greatly sympathetic characters and society is just a matter of powerful people dishonestly competing with one another and exploiting those beneath themThe plot is incredibly convoluted and I apologise if I misrepresent it However I will try to summarise a few key points It is a modern reworking of John Gay’s play The Beggar’s Opera and indeed a reworking of Brecht’s own play The Threepenny Opera The action follows Peachum a businessman who makes his money by getting people to pose as beggars and impose on people’s charity He is also involved in a dirty business deal with a corrupt businessman called Coax who has persuaded his colleagues to buy some rotting ships for the Navy and is using this knowledge to blackmail the others into agreeing to his terms Fearing that he will be ruined by Coax Peachum hopes to offer his daughter’s hand in marriage to CoaxUnfortunately the sensual Polly has other ideas She has become pregnant by another man and marries a man called Beckett passing the child off as his Beckett however is really MacHeath another shady businessman who runs a chain of shops that sell unfeasibly cheap and obviously stolen goodsPeachum hopes to persuade MacHeath to divorce Polly before Coax finds out and his hope lies in one of MacHeath’s shop owners called Mary Sawyer who feels betrayed by MacHeath’s marriage However MacHeath has another secret identity He is The Knife a gangster with a passion for murdering people albeit in his pastMary Sawyer is found dead soon after though we never learn what happened to her MacHeath is arrested for it and conducts his business from prison while he awaits his inevitable acuittal However Coax soon becomes a liability to both MacHeath and Peachum and he is murdered tooThe story ends with a newly released MacHeath now powerful than ever and in alliance with Peachum Meanwhile an old soldier called Fewkoombey is wrongly accused of Mary Sawyer’s death and hangedThe story offers us little real hope and we occasionally have to remind ourselves that the characters whose fortunes we are following are not actually especially likeable and that their aims are appalling Not that we ever expect them to be stopped in their tracksThis is not a world in which the better values have much of a chance The world of commerce and the world of crime are interchangeable and the people who run society are merely gangsters out for profit Essentially they are the petty criminals of yesterday who have realised that there is profit to be made from running businesses corruptly than from burglary and robbery There is little family loyalty Love is no lofty ideal and sex gives no great pleasure It is merely a matter of necessity Polly Peachum will happily dupe her husband about the fatherhood of her baby and sleep with his colleague while he is in prison Religion offers no comfort and the one sermon we hear is an endorsement of the cut throat capitalism we are witnessingThere is no sympathy for the common man We hear of bankrupt small shopkeepers strikers treated brutally and soldiers going down with rotten ships leaving no survivors but we are never encouraged to identify with them or care very much Their only importance in the story is how this affects the fortunes of our anti heroesThe one remotely pitiable character is Fewkoombey but Brecht makes no effort to engage our sympathies with him We are informed from the beginning that he will be hanged later in the book something that immediately distances him from us He is also happy to kill Coax to save his own skinIndeed the characters are pawns and Brecht has no great interest in them The main failing of the book in fact is that it spends too much time on confusing intrigue described in minute detail at the expense of artistic purpose entertainment or political messageThere are plenty of long speeches written in italics but I am not sure what the purpose of those was unless Brecht felt that they were particularly fine pieces of writing or illustrative of important points Either way discussion is not especially subtleIn fact it is often the drawback of socialist and Marxist literature that there is little interest in character and surprisingly little real sympathy for poor people George Bernard Shaw said that the poor could only be portrayed as figures of comedy or pathos George Orwell depicts the beggars in his fiction as rather stupid and vacuous Robert Tressell’s working class characters are gullible fools taken in by their employersI am generalising a little about socialist writings in this review but it is true that there is a strong element of what I am saying in the literature produced by the left We may well ask why socialist literature is so pessimistic and deals in such seamy subjectsThe explanation that a conservative might offer is that this pessimism reflects the socialist’s secret realisation that hisher ideals are wrong and will never come to fruition Even if we do not accept this sweeping statement it is at least possible that there is an element of frustration and irritation in socialist writings The socialist lives in a world where things often do not seem to be going their way The powerful enemies of the common man continue to rule the roost and the common workers seem impervious to the ideals of the socialist that will supposedly make their world better It is hardly surprising that it is difficult to stay positive in these circumstancesHowever there are other reasons It is not the done thing for a socialist to writer about the nicer sides of society George Bernard Shaw may have been happy setting his plays in the drawing rooms of the wealthy but most writers would feel that they have a duty to show the underside of society and not to produce a cosy world of friendly bourgeois banter about how dreadfully uneual the world is Indeed why would the ruling classes be so concerned about the injustices that sustain them anyway?Another important reason is polemic The socialist who is writing about the affairs of the current age or in Brecht’s case the recent past is seeking to stir the reader up – to make them see life’s injustices and to fight for a better future The reader cannot be allowed to feel that everything in this world is going well or what would be the need for socialism?Threepenny Novel is a readable enough book but it suffers from its obsession with the minutiae of criminal activity and intrigue at the expense of a engaging story It is difficult to follow all the machinations and Brecht seems too much in love with these It is hard not to wonder if the book afforded pleasure to the writer than it does to the reader

  5. Igor Korousic Igor Korousic says:

    Is it true? Is it exeggerated? Can it be that behind faces smiling but not showing teeth faces with eyes made up but without sparks can it be that behind talking about fog and giving a penny to a begger there's nothing but cold left brained selfishness winning in the rat race? It can't be like that people were supposed to be good in essence people were given a pound in a form of love and respect for other people People are surely not animals they evolved further than the chimpanzees They don't eat their neighbour's children for some reasonThe uestion is why don't they do that? Would they do that if it was socially acceptable? Would they do that under right circumstances? Would they do that if nobody knew?I thought that they would and then when I finished this book it only enforced my belief Threepenny novel is as cruel as i do believe people arePerhaps someone will think that the world has become 'civilized' since the beginning of the 20th century and therefore this book is not a real account of life nowadays Perhaps someone will say we've gotten better and in case we haven't we have institutions laws and codes now which would make this story impossible in 2010It's a superb book

  6. Arukiyomi Arukiyomi says:

    This was a strange one I had no idea about any of the background to the novel at all not even the play it’s based on John Gay’s Beggar’s Opera While the novel can be taken at face value as a tale of the business rivalries amid the slums of Victorian London Brecht would not have us remain on the surface It was important to him that the play he originally wrote Threepenny Opera and this subseuent novel should serve as a vehicle for his ideas about capitalism and its impact on the masses In this regard it has not lost its relevance to our livesThe plot twists and turns around various characters and chiefly centres on the business rivals Peachum Coax and Macheath Each of these is pursuing his own method of developing capital pimping beggars trading commercial shipping and discount shops respectively Each of these lives intertwines not least due to the secret marriage of Macheath to Polly the daughter of PeachumNow I don’t for a minute claim to understand economics and how trade achieves capital I found uite a bit of the business discussions hard to follow But never once did I feel that made me want to stop reading Brecht has built on Gay’s characters to create vivid portrayals of archetypal capitalistsAnd that’s why the novel is so relevant today It has a lot to teach us about how a focus on capital can mean people are reduced to the simple status of drones who generate profit Had this been written only recently it would not be hard to imagine individuals today who these characters would be based upon Foxconn and came to mind ya hear that Goodreads???Some might argue correctly that this is Marxist ideology That of course doesn’t make it irrelevant per se If anyone wants to attempt to convince me that this element of Marx is somehow irrelevant to issues we face in 21st century society please do Threepenny Novel is a brilliant illustration of how “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil And some people craving money have pierced themselves with many sorrows” 1 Timothy 610It’s a desperate narrative which ends with an imagined trial of humanity by the dead which results in all round condemnation for the exploitation we depend on to further our lifestyles Again the relevance is resounding and I can’t understand why a novel like this with very real historical significance was removed from the 1001 Books list in favour of banality like The Marriage Plot

  7. M.R. Dowsing M.R. Dowsing says:

    Brecht's only novel is of course based on his own Threepenny Opera which was itself based on John Gay's The Beggar's Opera Set in Victorian London the novel feels similar to Dickens in many ways but written with a very dry humour and none of the sentimentality The plot mostly involves the extremely dodgy business dealings of the characters Peachum and Macheath along with some eually dubious bankers and financiers in fact it feels surprisingly relevant to current times A satirical yet rather subtle attack on capitalist society Brecht's vision here is of a world in which the poor and weak are continually exploited in the most casual fashion by the powerful and unscrupulous who always come out on top It's very good writing but may be a little slow going for some

  8. Maxime Maxime says:

    What an unworthy affair to write contracts and debate over this and that Why not just stand up with a knife 'your money or your life'? But then again so are the modern ways Macheath This novel was written to make a political statement and in that aspect with great success but purely literary this book is far from a masterpiece The monologues by the characters are word gold and really stand on their own as very interesting literary pieces but the plot is too complicated technical and at a lot of times becomes even boring After pages of struggling through dry technicalities the reader is rewarded with a monologue that explains why the previous pages mattered and what they meant A truely good novel however doesn't need these expositions but this one sadly does Brecht tries to make a political point by showing the struggle between a few competing businessmen who al know their roots in the London underworld They left their criminal backgrounds behind but there methods have not become less ruthless Where before the tool was the dagger now the tool is the contract and if necessary still the knife The threepenny novel depicts how under the 'democratic regime' violence and oppression never became obsolete but have taken on a modern form Behind the so called free contractual relations the high esteemed businessmen and the modern parliamentary system lies a world of oppression exploitation greed and violence The book however goes far too much into detail into the specific actions and methods in this power struggle The book therefore feels far too technical It's impressive how deeply aware Brecht is of the specific functioning of capitalist market methods but to the reader it is rather boring than impressiveBrecht seems to unconsciously acknowledge this weakness by the great monologues of the characters In these monologues the characters clearly state their intentions their cynical mentalities their capitalist ideology and outlook on the word After pages of sometimes boring and always far too technical explanations of specific economic handlings the reader is rewarded with an exposition that gives meaning to the scenes that go before it These expositions are really really good both literary AND to make a political statement but they feel like oases of literary genius in an often unsatisfying dessertA common rule in literature is that a good novelist doesn't need to tell explicitly what his work is about rather than show it implicitly by developing characters and 'their' plot Personally I disagree with the strict implementation of this rule and I believe good expositions can be unforgettable this is why this book survives the time but these expositions needs to go hand in hand with a strong plot and strong characters think Night train to LisbonThe blunt and cynical way Brecht portrays the affairs of course has meaning It shows how strongly the economic rationale is the driver of these individuals They don't uestion themselves and have no moral hesitations This is excellent as a critiue on bourgeois capitalism but a good novel needs emotional life I think These two elements can interestingly be combined I believe The proces of how the capitalist market laws root out any morality that doesn't serve their class interest could have made this novel interesting think Breaking Bad Walter White transformation but it wouldn't be the blunt cynical Brecht any That being said some scenes however technical were captivating and sometimes even you could feel how the characters are supposed to have felt but these moments were uite rare I believeFree translation from Dutch

  9. Jerome Baladad Jerome Baladad says:

    In my deliberate reading which I started over a year ago of this wonderfully written and at times confusing adaptationtranslation from its originally written in German of a fiction work as I happened to have been privileged to have known personally some of those direct relatives of Bertolt Brecht a giant in theatre and whose family members I've known and met have since brought me some curiosity as to why his works are being read and studied I have since then convinced myself that I have made the right decision to read this book It's better known in its format as a stage play Threepenny Opera I have since then discovered during my reading why Brecht remains to be a major and strong force to reckon with on catching the most complicated and subtle connections between the forces emanating mainly from overall structure of society and those who are active most powerful and least desirable players of this society These elements come into play and give very fascinating flow of dynamics that interplay what most would see and get to highlight the accomplishments and failures of human beings who happened to be caught unwittingly in the structure of society that continues to evolve This is a very good book to read for those who are engaged in businesses in their capacities as entrepreneurs or those into being employed as members of the corporate world particularly those who are starting to pursue their professional careers There is no getting away indeed from becoming enlightened early enough so that performers or those involved will minimize their surprise as to how developments will turn to be after some time if they will not find the precious time now to reflect on their tasks and participation no matter how minor or significant their roles can be in the corporate world It's a good adaptation of what has been described in textbook style in Machiavelli's The Prince and a good introduction and reference book to strategic design and management for MBA students who want to figure out the context behind boring theories described and involved in the process of strategy formulation and implementation The setting may have been from the first to second uarters of the 20th century but the events described are very relevant and timely to the experiences of those we read of or even are familiar with from what have been happening nowadays Its timelessness lies in its honest to goodness descriptions of what goes on in the human mind driven by unknown and unclear motivations both external and internal which can be sensibly provocative and engaging and set amidst struggles among the so called members who are least fit to the most fittest as mainly being eventually those that survive the very tough competition not seen on the surface I have found the translation made in this book seems to be to uite faulty at certain passages and I would have wanted to read a flowing cohesive structure for a novel but I think the book was designed as such or left as such by the translators Desmond I Vesey and Christopher Isherwood for the verses included in the book I would then venture that for this time it's the content that matters not the structure In so many words the novel has been actually a rather complicated retelling of stories that are interrelated and are behind the lives of the characters you'd get to discover in the book most especially the Macheath Mack the Knife of the famous song most notably played by the great Louis Armstrong his Father in Law Peachum the sensible and apparently very modern daughter the Peach and the crippled veteran soldier then professional beggar Fewkoombey that reminds me of some characters I meet on the subway and some streets of New York City plus the very social structure of Great Britain which was then a super power You just change some words referring to places people or events and you'd get transported to what have been happening nowadaysHowever there seems to be a lack of appreciation in describing or even in highlighting the role and inspiration from Divine sources in a direct manner but nevertheless the curious regular reader gets to be reminded as well of this apparent absence What's highlighted is the supremacy of the capabilities of humans amidst challenges that have been brought to fore by design by those who are considered to be among the best and brightest There's no mistaking about the notions held by some who think of themselves as being superior one way or another over the rest of the ordinary populace They have been shown in this book as being very capable of seeing others as their inferiors by certain virtues derived perhaps from wealth social connections cunning intelligence strength courage experience which make people particularly those who happen to be in positions of power and authority or even influential enough to make subtle changes become portrayed as certainly covertly manipulative But they fail to recognize and completely understand what has been seen and has become to be understood that anyone born of humankind has a role to play according to a much higher scheme of what has been Divinely inspired and led and not clearly seen by those who are deemed to be humanly wise But still despite the lack this uality is one reason why this book is worth the time reading and devouring intellectually for all its in your face descriptions of morals without you noticing much of it coming into fore

  10. Howard Howard says:

    This is the 1934 novel of the 1928 German operatic interpretation of the English original ballad opera “The Beggar’s Opera” of 1798 written by Gray from an idea by his friend Swift author of Gulliver’s Travels in 1716 which contains the character MacHeath This somewhat tortuous intro allows me to highlight that the novel impart replicates Brecht’s original lyrics for the famous song “Mack the Knife” being MacHeathI had heard the name of Brecht but didn’t know much else He is a famous dramatist and poet liken to a modern day Shakespeare I think this is apparently his only significant novel The story is based in London of 1902 and centres on the corruption and intrigues between two firms their banking investors and the government in purchasing transport ships to get troops to relieve the soldiers trapped at Mafeking during the South African Boer War Peachum runs a professional “beggars shop” providing fake beggars to extort cash; he has an eligible daughter Polly MacHeath an ex street knife murderer runs an organised crime gang stealing produce to sell in his “B shop” franchise Along comes the shady broker Coax who gathers together a group of investors including Peachum to buy some rotten boats and with the connivance of Hale the government purchaser to sell them at huge profit The whole story is an indictment of the vagaries of the capitalist system price fixing monopolies investment banking blackmail murder as each party tries to get the money by undermining the others including the general populous the ‘beggars’ the B shop operators and Aaron with his competitor shops The love interest is that Polly and MacHeath hit if off against Peachum’s ideas to use Polly to influence CoaxThe novel is somewhat Dickensian in style but somehow for me the focus was so much on the financial shenanigans which do get pretty complicated than the social deprivation and realism to the extent that after halfway I found it all a little wearing The significant problem I had given the overarching financial realism was the implausibility of a seemingly major shopping chain sourcing its products through the scale of crime necessary – how would it work for the insurance companies factories and the original purchasers ie honest businesses would soon fail even if they stoop to MacHeath’s level of irregularities like Aaron has to do in the story and then there’s no one ordering from the factoriesA uote“Truth itself was nothing probability everything”Oh well I read some Brecht And give it 3 stars overall

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Der Dreigroschenroman [EPUB] ✰ Der Dreigroschenroman By Bertolt Brecht – Brecht's only novel is of course based on his own Threepenny Opera which was itself based on John Gay's The Beggar's Opera Set in Victorian London the novel feels similar to Dickens in many ways but w Brecht's only novel is of course based on his own Threepenny Opera which was itself based on John Gay's The Beggar's Opera Set in Victorian London the novel feels similar to Dickens in many ways but written with a very dry humour and none of the sentimentality The plot mostly involves the extremely dodgy business dealings of the characters Peachum and Macheath along with some eually dubious bankers and financiers in fact it feels surprisingly relevant to current times A satirical yet rather subtle attack on capitalist society Brecht's vision here is of a world in which the poor and weak are continually exploited in the most casual fashion by the powerful and unscrupulous who always come out on top It's very good writing but may be a little slow going for some.