Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bertolt Brecht: Dreigroschenroman (a novel)

Bertolt Brecht: Dreigroschenroman / Kerjäläisromaani. NL 1934. Originally written in exile in Denmark and published in exile in the Netherlands in German. Finnish translation by Aarno Peromies for Keltainen kirjasto. Helsinki: Tammi 1959.

Reading inspired by our Yellow Library film tribute series, with G.W. Pabst's film Die 3-Groschen-Oper (DE 1931) forthcoming. - An interesting case in the history of film and literature. Bertolt Brecht's successful music play Die Dreigroschenoper (DE 1928, based on John Gay's The Beggar's Opera, GB 1728, incorporating poems by Francois Villon, FR ca 1463, music by Kurt Weill) was the basis for G.W. Pabst's film, against Brecht's will. Brecht was disappointed with the way his play had become successful, based on a misunderstanding of its ideas. Brecht wrote an original film screenplay, which was rejected, and instead, Pabst's film was based on the original play. Brecht was so offended that he sued the producers and published his screenplay and the material for the trial as a book, Der Dreigroschenprozess (DE 1931). -  The film has the distinction that the author published not only one but two books as its counterweight. - Dreigroschenroman was Brecht's last word on the subject. - The novel is a mordant satire, where the world of crime is a black mirror for the establishment. The writer's touch is inspired and the Finnish translation seems to pay justice to it. - The main difference between the play and the novel is that the play focuses more on the beggars and the criminals and the novel more on the businessmen. - The novel is a masterpiece, yet I have a reservation. The corruption is so overwhelming that everybody seems either a participant in it or powerless against it. There are conflicts in the novel certainly, but I would expect a more profound counterweight to the world of crime.

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