By Bertolt Brecht, Elisabeth Hauptmann, Ralph Mannheim, John Willett
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Additional info for Die Dreigroschenoper (The Threepenny Opera)
Ultimately, by pointing to the play’s sustained attention to visions of men in the aggregate—visions indebted, as I show, to Elizabethan accounts of hyper-disciplined Turks and swarming Scythians—I revise the usual reading of Marlowe’s text so as to tease out its renderings of modern ‘‘massifying’’ practices, which presage a new world of social abstraction. ’’ Focusing on English history plays that thematize impressment—especially Shakespeare’s 1 and 2 Henry IV—I align various practices associated with the selection and training of soldiers with recurring narratives about expendable men and extractable labor.
Dividing the work of war into specialized tasks and actions that might be calculated in advance, military writers disseminated a view of manhood as an overwhelmingly social phenomenon. Calling upon mathematics, Elizabethan militarists were preoccupied not only with this abstract, economic division of labor but also (as Dee’s description of Warwick’s locket suggests) with another kind of abstract order—namely, that associated with ‘‘imbattailing’’ or the arrangement of soldiers in various kinds of formations for training and combat.
What is perhaps the most succinct expression of this ‘‘modern’’ corporate body may be found in the diagrams of troop formations that turn up frequently in the pages of the Elizabethan military treatises. Such diagrams may be seen in English manuscripts dating from the early sixteenth century—indeed, Dee’s account of Warwick suggests that his locket contains one—but they did not appear in print in England until the 1560s, when Peter Whitehorne appended his illustrated treatise to his translation of Machiavelli41 (see Figure 2).
Die Dreigroschenoper (The Threepenny Opera) by Bertolt Brecht, Elisabeth Hauptmann, Ralph Mannheim, John Willett