In the Jungle of Cities

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A: Bertolt Brecht Pf: 1923, Munich Pb: 1927 Tr: 1961 G: Drama in 11 scenes; German prose S: Chicago, 1912–15 C: 13m, 3fShlink, a Malayan timber merchant, picks a quarrel with Garga, an inoffensive, idealistic, but stubborn librarian. Despite being poor, Garga refuses to sell Shlink his opinion about an unimportant book. Abandoning his girl Jane Larry to one of Shlink's henchmen, Garga throws away most of his clothes, and runs off. The battle lines are now drawn. Visiting Shlink in his office, Garga is dismayed to discover that his sister Marie has fallen in love with Shlink. In order to balance the unequal conflict, Shlink makes over his timber enterprise and his home to Garga, who immediately commits fraud in Shlink's name. Rejected by Shlink, Marie, together with Jane, turns to prostitution. Mainly to spite each other, Garga marries Jane, and Shlink sleeps with Marie. When Garga's fraud is exposed, he opts to go to prison in Shlink's place, but also prepares a document denouncing Shlink for raping his sister and for molesting his wife. Three years later, Garga is released from prison, and Shlink has regained control of his business. Producing his document, Garga awaits the lynching of Shlink by a racist mob. At a last meeting between the two antagonists, Shlink confesses that he loves Garga but concedes that no one can ever escape from isolation in the ‘jungle’ of existence. Garga claims victory in their fight, and, just before the lynch mob arrives, Shlink dies. Garga sells the timber business, intending to move to New York.

A: Bertolt Brecht Pf: 1923, Munich Pb: 1927 Tr: 1961 G: Drama in 11 scenes; German prose S: Chicago, 1912–15 C: 13m, 3f

This is the most complex and enigmatic of Brecht's plays, suggesting the obscurely modernist direction he might have taken, had he not through Marxism become persuaded of the need for social relevance in his playwriting. In this desolate image of contemporary capitalist ‘dog-eat-dog’ society, Brecht offers no insight into the sources of the two men's quarrel, but, as in a boxing match, urges the audience simply to ‘concentrate on the finish’.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).

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