In response to:
Alienating Brecht from the June 3, 1971 issue
To the Editors:
In No Bread of Roses, Leo Wetcheek’s once famous roman à clef about Bertolt Brecht, who figures in it as Sebastian Prickl, we read (p. 1108):
Geneva was dear that year, but Bast always loved to be near his money. As he strolled one day past Calvin’s church, a phrase hit him like a falling franc: SAINT JOHN OF THE STOCK EXCHANGE!
The real Brecht, as we know, wrote three plays which purport to be about a female saint. But Wetcheek was on to him, and now [NYR, June 3, p. 18] Nigel Dennis has perceived that one of these Joans is really a man. It’s good to see criticism catching up with fiction.
(Translator, Saint Joan of the Stockyards)
University of Washington, Seattle
Nigel Dennis replies:
Yes, Dr. Esslin makes the same point—often shameful but not “altogether shameless.” I am only too ready to accept this correction.
As to having changed the sex of one of Brecht’s three female saints, to which of the ladies does Professor Jones refer? I performed no operation on his particular pigeon, “Saint Joan” of the stockyards. The “Good Woman” of Setzuan was made a transvestite by Brecht, not me. Who is the third lady? I find no trace of her in my appointments book.
August 12, 1971