Mother Courage and Her Children

by Bertolt Brecht

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Critical Context

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Brecht began writing plays as early as 1919, and in a very few years he was forging a place for himself in modern drama with such innovative works as Trommeln in der Nacht (pr., pb. 1922; Drums in the Night, 1961), Im Dickicht der Stadte (pr. 1923; In the Jungle of the Cities, 1961), and Die Dreigroschenoper (pr. 1928; The Threepenny Opera, 1949). His great decade as a playwright, however, was the 1940’s, which witnessed the production of first Mother Courage and Her Children and then Leben des Galilei (pr. 1943; Life of Galileo, 1947), Der gute Mensch von Sezuan (pr. 1943; The Good Woman of Setzuan, 1948), and Der Kaukasische Kreidekreis (pr. 1958; The Caucasian Chalk Circle, 1948), among others. By the time he began writing Mother Courage and Her Children, Brecht had already developed the theory behind his epic theater and begun to put it into practice; he had also demonstrated a subtle and passionate grasp of sociopolitical issues. The 1940’s was a fertile decade for Brecht for several reasons, not the least of which is the simple fact that by then he had reached full maturity, but also because world and personal circumstances galvanized him to creative action: the Communist defeat at the hands of the Nazis in Germany, his forced departure from his homeland, and World War II.

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Critical Evaluation