The Business Affairs of Mr Julius Caesar

Charles Osborne, Bertolt Brecht, Anthony Phelan

fiction classics historical
challenging informative slow-paced

216 pages | first published 1939

Bertolt Brecht's only novel, available in English for the first time, provides readers with an enthralling account of the narrator's attempt to write a biography of one of the world's great leaders.

The Business Affairs of Mr Julius Caesar describes the narrator's attempt to write an idealised account of Caesar twenty years after his death. But the historian abandoned his planned biography, confronted by a baffling range of contradictory views. Was Caesar an opportunist, a permanently bankrupt businessman who became too big for the banks to allow him to fail - as his former banker claims? Did he stumble into power while trying to make money, as suggested by the diary of his former slave, an account of everyday life complete with intrigues, chance encounters and mundane household affairs?

As well as describing Caesar's activities at this crucial period, Brecht presents the essential difficulty of explaining historical events coherently: in an echo of his dramatic theories - stressing the audience's task of interpretation rather than passive acceptance - we have to work out our own views about Caesar.

This edition is translated by Charles Osborne and features an introduction and editorial notes by Professor Anthony Phelan.

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