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1001 Books Round-Up March 2023


The image might have given it away…I only managed one 1001 books this month.

Threepenny Novel by Bertolt Brecht. BOTM. Synopsis from GR: 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 equally 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. Definitely relevant today.

My Thoughts: This is a very dry book (not sure if that is the translation) but I found it very easy to put down and a lot harder to pick up. Once I got into the flow of things it was better but getting over that first hurdle took some effort.

I have not read Threepenny Opera or the Beggars Opera so any relation to those was lost to me. Apart from the fact that the social issues are discussed and remain relevant today I didn’t really get the Dickens comparison, probably because I quite enjoy a good Dickens and this was a struggle for me.

What does stick out is the idea that a few powerful men (and yes in this book it is all men) are in control of the fortunes of everyone else while all they really care about is maintaining money or power for themselves. With the exception that women are now included in this elite class this could be referring to modern governments and modern big business.

3 Stars – read it to get angry about how little has changed. Don’t read it if you are expecting Dickens.

Have you read this one? Let us know what you thought.

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