The Beggar's Opera

The Beggar's Opera

by Václav Havel
     
 

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The Czech President Vaclav Havel, a force on behalf of international human rights and his country's most celebrated dissident, first gained prominence as a playwright. During the period when Havel was blacklisted by the Czechoslovakian government for his political activism, productions of his work in and around Prague were regarded as subversive acts. The Beggar's

Overview

The Czech President Vaclav Havel, a force on behalf of international human rights and his country's most celebrated dissident, first gained prominence as a playwright. During the period when Havel was blacklisted by the Czechoslovakian government for his political activism, productions of his work in and around Prague were regarded as subversive acts. The Beggar's Opera is a free-wheeling, highly politicized adaptation of John Gay's well-known eighteenth-century work of the same name. The play, reminiscent of Havel's earlier Garden Party and The Memorandum, is up to his best satirical standard. Like the Brecht/Weill Threepenny Opera, Havel's play uses an underworld milieu to explore the intermingled themes of love, loyalty, and treachery.Paul Wilson's new English translation of The Beggar's Opera is lively, idiomatic, and sensitive to underlying linguistic and political issues. The Cornell edition contains an Introduction by Peter Steiner that details the November 1, 1976, premiere of the play in the Prague suburb of Horní Pocernice, the reaction of the Czech secret police, and the measures the government took to punish and discredit those involved in the production. Eleven photographs—of the playwright, the actors, the theatre, and the actual performance—enhance the texture of the book.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Havel's works. . . depart from Gay's original ballad in three ways: its style is colloquial, its tone is comic, and its subplots are different. The political overtones remain sharp. . . Highly recommended."—Library Journal, May 2001

"Anyone who wants to know why it is so easy for powerful people to abuse their fellow men should read this book."—Milos Forman

Library Journal
Czech Republic President Havel's 1975 adaptation of British dramatist John Gay's 1728 political satire, The Beggar's Opera, and other subversive works made him a blacklisted dissenter in the Czech Communist regime. Translated here by Wilson, who has rendered many of Havel's works in English, the play's 14 quick scenes depart from Gay's original ballad in three ways: its style is colloquial, its tone is comic, and its subplots are different. The political overtones remain sharp, as the play satirizes collectivism, lack of individual identity and freedom, and the mistrust and corruption prevalent in Communist Czechoslovakia. The bigamous hero-rogue Captain Macheath saves his neck by joining the wheeling-and-dealing, double-crossing practices of the underworld, while pickpocket Havey Filch remains true to himself until death. In the introduction, Peter Stein (Univ. of Pennsylvania) provides an analysis of the play in its literary and political context. He also details the play's November 1, 1975 premier, which was secretly staged near Prague, and the consequent political persecution. Also included are 11 black-and-white photographs of the premier. Highly recommended for both academic and public libraries. Ming-ming Shen Kuo, Ball State Univ. Lib., Muncie, ID Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801438332
Publisher:
Cornell University Press
Publication date:
03/28/2001
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
128
Sales rank:
1,173,974
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)

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