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Mother Courage and Her Children

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3.65  ·  Rating details ·  16,620 ratings  ·  412 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 112 pages
Published October 7th 1996 by Arcade Publishing (first published April 19th 1941)
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Steven Godin
May 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Lisa
Jul 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Fergus
Mar 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I hate to give a compliantly communist play the full five stars, but boy, does Brecht deserve them! Communist or not, the play has a takeaway message we can all buy: DO YOUR BEST - AND ENDURE TILL THE END.

Though the plot is unsavoury - Mother Courage is a plain dealing, foul talking Camp Follower in a grisly modern war - this old toothless hag persuades us to Do Our Utmost for the Highest, whatever your most shining high ideal may be.

And hers, though simply her family's survival in an environmen
...more
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)to both the Imperial and Protestant soldiers. She is certain that she can always make money and profit from ...more
Czarny Pies
Oct 20, 2014 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Don't read this grossly overrated play. Go attend a performance of the Three penny Opera instead.
Recommended to Czarny by: It was on an undergraduate course that I took.
Shelves: german-lit
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
...more
Sookie
Mar 23, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays, translated
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
...more
michelle
Nov 05, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
No. Just no.
Jill Mackin
Aug 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: play, europe
Brilliant.
Alan
Dec 11, 2020 rated it liked it
I've read (in the Manheim trans*) and taught this play, set in the Thirty Years War, and some others by Brecht, while attending performances of Galileo (at the Schubert Theater, Boston), BAAL (at Trinity Rep, Providence), the Threepenny Opera (at my own Bristol Comm College, directed by Brenner) and two at American Rep, Cambridge, and Brandeis.** Arguably, Brecht's best plays, like this one and Galileo, were written in the US, 1938-39. Prior, as a Marxist pacifist in Berlin until 1938, he mostly ...more
Rhys
Apr 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Valentina Markasović
Dec 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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.
...more
d.a.v.i.d
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
...more
➸ Gwen de Sade
Nov 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, classics
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
...more
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,
...more
Sarah
May 11, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: plays
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.
Morgan
Jun 17, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed
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. ...more
Akemi
Dec 13, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: school
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 ...more
Dorottya
Feb 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: plays
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
...more
F
May 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Laura
Nov 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Bettie
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
...more
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. ...more
indeedox
May 01, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: not-owned
Meh.
Kshitij Chaurel
Aug 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Loved this play.
Dayton Shanahan
Apr 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
...more
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! ...more
Rachel
Nov 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Hayfa
Aug 12, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Ananya M
Feb 02, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my first time reading Brecht, I see the hype. This is a play in 12 scenes, following Anna, also known as mother courage, who sells wares from her cart, along with her 3 children. This is set during the thirty years war. Mother courage goes from town to town, lugging her cart and selling things to anyone in need. I appreciated how her character was not the definition of moral good, she wanted to take care of her kids by making sales, but when they hear a rumour that the war ended, she beg ...more
Jess
Oct 21, 2020 rated it liked it
I’ve spent too much time with this one. Granted, I made life purposely difficult for myself by writing an essay linking Brecht, modernism and the second law of thermodynamics. Yeah. I’m going to put it to bed now with a passable review.

This one haunts me in a way I can’t articulate. Try as he might, Brecht’s Verfremdungseffekt (or ‘distancing effect’) did not quite stop me feeling deeply: my politically self-conscious consumption or whatever took second place. I won’t deny that the language is u
...more
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Bertolt Brecht (born Eugen Berthold Friedrich Brecht) was a German poet, playwright, and theatre director. A seminal theatre practitioner of the twentieth century, Brecht made equally significant contributions to dramaturgy and theatrical production, the latter particularly through the seismic impact of the tours undertaken by the Berliner Ensemble—the post-war theatre company operated by Brecht a ...more

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