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The Good Woman of Setzuan by Bertolt Brecht

The Good Woman of Setzuan

by Bertolt Brecht

Other authors: Ruth Berlau (Author), Paul Dessau (Contributor), Margarete Steffin (Author)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (9)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  All languages (11)
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
I want to go with the one I love.
I do not want to calculate the cost.
I do not want to think about whether it's good.
I do not want to know whether he loves me.
I want to go with whom I love.

Brecht is brutal here, situating his play in China, dangling the Gods who swing between Divine Indifference and Hypocrisy and filling the ranks with all the avarice and sloth that floats from our unctuous species. Some (may) find exception with the titular heroine and her Manichean solution to the query -- How To Serve Man: spoiler, it isn't a cookbook. I thought the device employed by the character is brilliant, a heady response to the pop-up morality of Snapchat Elysium. One came imagine Brecht seething.

Sexually frank but lacking overt violence (with one exception) this play becomes a lumpen comedy of manners. Who's laughing? ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
Volume 8 van Toneelserie Publiekstheater
  Savornin | Dec 20, 2018 |
piece de theatre, humoridtique, les dieux cherchent une bonne ame,y en a t'il encore? ( )
  Gerardlionel | Apr 1, 2016 |
Oh, I dunno. I am truly not in the mood for the in-its-place-very-effective combination of the austere, the verfremdsy and the social realist that Brecht brings. I want real tearful people and psychological insights, here, now. And as a result I read with inattention and missed key things, like how not only was Shen Teh dressed up as her cousin Shui Ta but she was the only ever Shui Ta (I was waiting, to the degree I was waiting for anything, for real and fake Shui Ta to collide, with hijinx), like things like that. I get that this is a quotidian-main-street-fascist allegory, I get that the only way we can be good is to split ourselves in two, I get that the only way a woman can be good is to also be bad and a man, I get that good and evil are emergent properties of the relations of production, yeah yeah yeah. And Shen Teh certainly rises above her surroundings in a simple and affective way ("When I saw his sly smile I was afraid, but / When I saw the holes in his shoes I loved him dearly") But despite the shot of everyday Marx and the farcical gods and the grace notes, this felt very often like a thesis or exercise with events that did not rise from cliché to archetype. ( )
2 vote MeditationesMartini | Jul 16, 2015 |
Excellent play with a wonderful female protagonist. That the whims of the gods and the inability to be "good" and survive turn her into the more practical male counterpart for survival is fascinating to me. But she should have lost the boyfriend. Can you say "jerk?" I knew you could. ( )
  AliceAnna | Oct 19, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (24 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bertolt Brechtprimary authorall editionscalculated
Berlau, RuthAuthorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dessau, PaulContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Steffin, MargareteAuthorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Apelman, MajaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bentley, EricTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
At the gates of the half-Westernizes city of Setzuan. Evening. WONG the water seller introduces himself to the audience.

WONG: I sell water here in the city of Setzuan.
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
[Der dritte Gott:] In dem Beschluß hieß es: die Welt kann bleiben, wie sie ist, wenn genügend gute Menschen gefunden werden, die ein menschenwürdiges Dasein leben können.
(Vorspiel, edition suhrkamp S. 10)
[Shen Te zum Publikum:] Ich habe immer gehört, wenn man liebt, geht man auf Wolken, aber das Schöne ist, daß man auf der Erde geht, dem Asphalt. (4. Szene, edition suhrkamp S. 57)
[Shen Te zum Publikum:] Ich sage euch, es entgeht euch viel, wenn ihr nicht liebt und eure Stadt seht in der Stunde, wo sie sich vom Lager erhebt wie ein nüchterner alter Handwerker, der seine Lungen mit frischer Luft vollpumpt und nach seinem Handwerkszeug greift, wie die Dichter singen. (4. Szene, edition suhrkamp S. 57)
[Shen Te:]

Oh, ihr Unglücklichen!

Euerm Bruder wird Gewalt angetan, und ihr kneift die Augen zu!

Der Getroffene schreit laut auf, und ihr schweigt?

Der Gewalttätige geht herum und wählt sein Opfer

Und ihr sagt: uns verschont er, denn wir zeigen kein Mißfallen.

Was ist das für eine Stadt, was seid ihr für Menschen!

Wenn in einer Stadt ein Unrecht geschieht, muß ein Aufruhr sein

Und wo kein Aufruhr ist, da ist es besser, daß die Stadt untergeht

Durch ein Feuer, bevor es Nacht wird!

(4. Szene, edition suhrkamp S. 61)
[Shen Te:]

In unserem Lande

Braucht der Nützliche Glück. Nur

Wenn er starke Helfer findet

Kann er sich nützlich erweisen.

Die Guten

Können sich nicht helfen, und die Götter sind machtlos.

(4. Zwischenspiel, edition suhrkamp S. 65)
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"The Good Woman of Setzuan, written during Brecht's exile and set in pre-Communist China, is a parable of a young woman torn between obligation and reality, between love and practicality, and between her own needs and those of her friends and neighbors."--BOOK JACKET. "Eric Bentley provides here a reliable English version of one of Brecht's most popular plays. This performance-friendly translation is often used in the theater."--BOOK JACKET. "Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) is one of Germany's best-known playwrights. His social critiques, including The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Mother Courage and Her Children, and The Threepenny Opera, resonate with modern audiences and continue to be frequently performed."--BOOK JACKET.

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