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This new Student Edition, featuring the classic John Willett translation of the play, includes an introduction by Katherine Hollander, which explores the following:
* Contexts (Thirty Years War, 1618-1648; World War II and exile; sources; influential figures such as Brecht, Margarete Steffin, Helene Weigel and Karin Michaelis)
* Themes (war; nature; capitalism)
* Dramatic devices (epic theatre)
* Production history and critical reception
* Academic debate (Marxist, feminist and postmodernist)
* Further study
Widely regarded as Brecht's best work, Mother Courage and her Children was written in 1938-9 and received its premiere in Zurich in 1941. Mother Courage - a canteen woman serving with the Swedish Army during the Thirty Years War (1618-48) - follows the armies, selling provisions and liquor to the troops. Both her sons die in the war and her dumb daughter, Kattrin, is mortally wounded as she beats a drum to warn the town of Halle of an impending attack. Yet, all the while, Mother Courage continues her travels with her wagon, indomitably businesslike, calculating how she can make material profit from the war and turn conflict into capital.