The Threepenny Opera – Bertolt Brecht. (Part 1)

Book: The Threepenny Opera (Die Dreigroschenoper)  – Bertolt Brecht with Elisabeth Hauptmann and Kurt Weill. Translation by Ralph Manheim and John Willett.
Status: Read.

Everyone knows the song ‘Mack the Knife’ – but have you read the play/musical comedy it came from? I wasn’t even that much of a fan of the song. Now I can’t get it out of my bloody head.

Synopsis: Mac(k) the Knife (Macheath, originally ‘Mackie Messer’) is the most infamous criminal in the whole of London town. He marries Polly Peachum, the daughter of Jonathan Jeremiah Peachum: a man with just a few more scruples than the notorious Mackie. Peachum and his wife Celia clothe and train a network of beggars and earn a percentage of every donation their beggars manage to receive from the not-always-sympathetic public. When Peachum hears of his daughter’s marriage he becomes determined to catch Mac and send him to the gallows.

It has to be done, right? No mention of The Threepenny Opera is complete without a quotation from The Ballad of Mac the Knife.

“See the shark with teeth like razors.
All can read this open face.
And Macheath has got a knife, but
Not in such an obvious place.

See the shark, how red his fins are
As he slashes at his prey.
Mac the Knife wears white kid gloves which
Give the minimum away.

By the Thames’s turbid waters
Men abruptly tumble down.
Is it plague or is it cholera?
Or a sign Macheath’s in town?

On a beautiful blue Sunday
See a corpse stretched in the Strand.
See a man dodge round the corner…
Mackie’s friends will understand.

And Schmul Meier, reported missing
Like so many wealthy men:
Mac the Knife acquired his cash box.
God alone knows how or when.”

Peachum, the beggar’s friend, with a beggar.

FILCH: Please, Mr. Peachum, please. What can I do, Mr. Peachum? The gentlemen beat me black and blue and then they gave me your business card. If I took off my coat, you’d think you were looking at a fish on a slab.
PEACHUM: My friend, if you’re not flat as a kipper, then my men were not doing their job properly. Along come these young whipper-snappers who think they’ve only got to hold out their paw to land a steak. What would you say if someone started fishing the best trout out of your pond?
FILCH: It’s like this, Mr. Peachum  – I haven’t got a pond.

Peachum and his wife Celia

PEACHUM: Celia, the way you chuck your daughter around anyone would think I was a millionaire. Wanting to marry her off? The idea! Do you think this lousy business of ours would survive a week if those ragamuffins our customers had nothing better than our legs to look at? A husband! He’d have us in his clutches in three shakes! In his clutches! Do you think your daughter can hold her tongue in bed any better than you?
MRS. PEACHUM: A fine opinion of your daughter you have.
PEACHUM: The worst. The very worst. A lump of sensuality, that’s what she is.
MRS.PEACHUM: If so, she didn’t get it from you.

Mac’s gang are celebrating his wedding to Polly Peachum by filling a broken-into home with stolen furniture.

BOB: Congratulations! A copper got done in the Strand.
MAC: Amateurs.
NED: We did all we could, but three people in the West End were past saving. Congratulations!
MAC: Amateurs and bunglers.
JIMMY: An old gent got hurt a bit, but I don’t think it’s anything serious. Congratulations.
MAC: My orders were: avoid bloodshed. It makes me sick to think of it. You’ll never make business men! Cannibals, perhaps, but not business men!
WALTER: Congratulations. Only have an hour ago, Madam, that harpsichord belonged to the Duchess of Somerset.
POLLY: What is this furniture, anyway?
MAC: How Do you like the furniture, Polly?
POLLY in tears: Those poor people, all for a few sticks of furniture.
MAC: And what furniture! Junk! You have a perfect right to be angry. A rosewood harpsichord along with a renaissance sofa. That’s unforgiveable. (..)

Translation copyright for all the plays and texts by Brecht ©1979 by Stefan S. Brecht

Bertolt Brecht: Collected Plays: Two on Amazon Marketplace
The Threepenny Opera at Waterstones:


And we’re back!

My reading has picked up again lately and I thought back to my dear Quotable Paperback, and how much I used to love sharing little lines or paragraphs. So when a kind soul followed my poor, deserted blog I thought, well.. why not revive the old boy.

So, to freshly introduce myself! I’m Rachel, 27, and I read, well,… anything. I have a penchant for plays, existentialism, and German literature, but you’ll find all sorts on here.
As much as I would love to be, I am no critic. Actually no.. I wouldn’t really love to be a critic. I’m no author and I can’t tell authors how to author. There are books I love and books I don’t love, but I don’t mind telling you that I’m not as educated as to tell you why I came to either conclusion. I can’t go on and on about metaphors or various writing techniques. So when I wanted to start a book blog I decided purely to share the words I’ve been looking at and enjoying. I may give an opinion at the end of it, but I want to let the book do the talking. As I go through the book I use a pencil to bracket certain lines or short passages I like; some may be whimsical or humorous, some may be meaningful, or horrific, but the main thing is it’s straight from the horse’s mouth. If you like a book enough to want to give it a try, I will give some shopping links at the end of every post – but please, please, pleaaase consider buying your book from a secondhand or independent bookshop/bookseller.

I hope you find some books to enjoy from these little samples, and thank you for joining me for this literary journey. Think of it as a little buffet. Hey, that was a metaphor! Or was it..? Meh.

Rachel x

Long Absence

Hello everyone,

Again I’d like to apologise for leaving this blog for so long. It seems like I may not be able to continue with what I was doing, as my concentration with reading just has not improved.
That’s not to say I’ll never get back to it! I’m going to leave it open so the quotes in my previous entries can still be read and enjoyed.

I’m currently working on another blog that doesn’t take so much brain power but is equally as enjoyable.
My friend Ally and I are planning to see and review 1,001 films as part of our project 1001: A Screen Odyssey.
We’d both love it if you joined us over there!



I just wanted to do a small update to apologise for my absence and… lack of updates!
As stated on my ‘About’ page, I suffer from an illness called M.E. or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Sometimes various symptoms worsen or improve, and currently my concentration has worsened to the point where I find reading difficult. However this isn’t permanent and I will be continuing my reading very soon.
I want to give the books the concentration and (relatively) sharp mind they deserve and in my current state of mind I just can’t do that.
But hopefully I’ll return shortly and blog about the following books and more –

Albert Camus – The Outsider
Cormac McCarthy – The Road
Franz Kafka – The Trial

Thank you for reading,


The Torture Garden – Octave Mirbeau (Part 3)

Book: The Torture Garden – Octave Mirbeau
Status: Read

Very sorry for the delay in posting this, here is the final selection of quotes from ‘The Torture Garden’.
Now this one does come with a bit of a warning.. I wanted to give an example of this section of the book, so some of these quotes aren’t for youngsters or for some readers. They aren’t the most macabre in the book, but they aren’t altogether pleasant!
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The Torture Garden – Octave Mirbeau (Part 2)

Part two of quotes from ‘The Torture Garden’ by Octave Mirbeau. A couple of swears in these quotes I’m afraid, but we’re not into the torture garden itself yet.. so you needn’t be worried by any imagery!
Also, apologises for the lack of French accents on a couple of words or names, I can’t seem to find out how to do them.

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The Torture Garden – Octave Mirbeau

Book: The Torture Garden – Octave Mirbeau
Status: Read

I came across this book on my usual literary hopscotch, leaping from one author to another. I had read that Kafka’s ‘In The Penal Colony’ was probably inspired by this book, ‘The Torture Garden’. After reading it I agree that it probably was. While Kafka compared part of the death of the condemned man to a religious epiphany, Mirbeau explores the comparisons and links between death and decay, and sex, love and life.
This book isn’t exactly as harsh as a modern book would be (this book was written in 1898), but nevertheless it’s not for everyone. Therefore I probably won’t quote the harsher passages of the book – or if I do, I will warn beforehand.
I really enjoyed this book though, it’s pure decadence!
The first portion I will quote is from the first section titled “Frontispiece” in which a group of men are debating the nature of murder. This leads onto a man telling his story of a torture garden.
I’ve had to cut a lot out of here, there are some fantastic passages but much to long to quote! So anything with (…) means I’ve cut something out! So.. I’ll start with the wonderful dedication..

“To the priests, the soldiers, the judges, to those people who educate, instruct and govern men, I dedicate these pages of Murder and Blood.”

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