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The Threepenny Opera (Penguin Classics)

3.9 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0143105169
ISBN-10: 0143105167
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The Threepenny Opera and Mother Courage are the great plays of our time."
-Lillian Hellman

Book Description

Authoritative student edition of Brecht's most performed play. A vicious satire on the bourgeois capitalist society of the Weimar Republic, but set in a mock Victorian Soho.This edition features a full commentary and study aids and is the definitive edition for students. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (December 18, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143105167
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143105169
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,984 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Of all the translations on the market, this one is the best -- most are watered-down, tepid versions. Manheim & Willet's was used in the late 1970's revival of the piece by the New York Shakespeare Festival, which starred the late Raul Julia and Ellen Greene (of "Little Shop of Horrors" fame, in the role originally intended for Lotte Lenya).
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Format: Paperback
One has to know and understand the original German text of the Dreigroschenoper to be really able to judge the quality of the English translations. This one, used among others by Helen Schneider on her album with Weill songs, has nothing of the sarcasms of the German lyrics. Better read the 1954 translation of Marc Blitzstein or the translation made by Frank McGuinness in the early 1990s.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
and our local crime as well.

The Threepenny Opera is so well known and sought after (without many taking the time seriously to study it) that it can be pricey here on the open amazonian market. Don't go for the collector's editions; go for the one you can throw into a pocket and pull out and read. Get the book you will read.

Grove once more, like Beckett, comes to the rescue. Grove (and its Black Cat Evergreen extension) over forty years ago was noted for alone publishing what others would not. Over forty years later Grove's mass market editions still make available to us what otherwise might be out of reach. Bertolt Brecht, the banned playwright, remains here easily acquired, and read.

Certainly this is a bare bones edition. Other critical editions and essays are avaialble, but this is something very portable and readable. For instance for critical essays you might find Bertolt Brecht and Critical Theory: Marxism, Modernity and the Threepenny Lawsuit of interest. The Threepenny Opera (Penguin Classics) may contain more supplementary materials (I do not know). But I find what is supplied here adequate for now, and for reading.

We find here the lyrics to the songs at the proper place in the play, but not Kurt Weil's music. We do have a deeply moving (in the end) and eloquently written Foreword by Lotte Lenya who created her career here, and whose definitive presentation may yet be seen in
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have reviewed some of the Communist master playwright Bertolt Brecht's later more consciously political and didactic plays elsewhere in this space. The play under review is an earlier work, before he fully committed himself to communism, and is an adaptation of John Gay's 18th century Beggar's Opera to the modern theater. The subject at hand is a look at the way those in the lower depths of society survive under emergent capitalist conditions, especially the main character, one MacHealth a.k.a. Mac the Knife. As such Brecht's adaptation has given no end of problems for those critics who want to claim it for the communist cause. It is far too universal in it sentiment about human nature in the capitalist era and therefore properly is a transitional to his later more consciously partisan works like The Measures Taken and The Mother. Thus one should take it for is own worth as a look at survival in a seemingly Hobbesian world.

The plot line is rather simply-MacHealth, a former British imperial soldier, has struck out on his own in dog-eat dog London and has created a name for himself as a master criminal and seducer of the ladies. Other forces including the constabulary, a small disreputable but conniving businessman and, let us be politically correct here, some sexual workers combine in an attempt to deprive Mac of life and limb. However luck and a royal coronation combine to thwart those best laid plans. All of this is performed in a light operatic format that allows Brecht to wax poetic at humanity's plight through a series of sharply-etched songs in which he collaborated with the legendary Kurt Weill.

Above I referred to some controversy about Brecht's intention in this work.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I didn't realize when I started reading this that the play would be funny, but I found myself laughing frequently. Satire the drama is supposed to be, and satire Brecht does well. Admittedly, I didn't catch that he was satirizing specifically bourgeois society until almost the end (and I found Brecht's notes much more confusing than helpful), but that didn't subtract from my enjoyability of the book. I had expected it to be a much harder read, quick only for its short length, but found it overall very accessible and entertaining. It also helped remind me of the basic plot of John Gay's The Beggar's Opera, which I read a few years ago and also enjoyed. I only wish I knew what the music was like. Does anyone know of a good performance of The Threepenny Opera that can be found online?
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