(Friedrich) Brecht, (Eugen) Bertolt
(FRIEDRICH) BRECHT, (Eugen) Bertolt
Nationality: German. Born: Eugen Berthold Friedrich Brecht, Augsburg, 10 February 1898. Education: Studied medicine at the University of Munich, 1917-21. Family: Married 1) Marianne Zoff in 1922 (divorced 1927), one daughter; 2) Helene Weigel in 1929, one son and one daughter; one son with Paula Banholzer. Career: Worked as an orderly in an Augsburg hospital, 1918; dramaturg, Munich Kammerspiele, 1923-24, Deutsches Theater, Berlin, 1924-33; went into exile in Denmark, 1933-39, Sweden, 1939-41, the United States, 1941-47, and Switzerland, 1947-48; lived in East Berlin beginning 1949. Editor, with Lion Feuchtwanger and Willi Bredel, Das Wort , 1936-39; founder, with Helene Weigel, Berliner Ensemble, 1949. Awards: Kleist prize, 1922; first prize, Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, 1928, for short story "Die Bestie"; Stalin peace prize, 1954. Died: 14 August 1956.
Versuche (15 vols.). 1930-57.
Gesammelte Werke (2 vols.). 1938.
Stücke [Plays] (14 vols.). 1960.
Schriften zum Theater [Writings on Theatre] (7 vols.). 1963.
Gedichte [Poems] (9 vols.). 1964.
Prosa [Narrative Prose] (5 vols.). 1965.
Schriften zur Literatur und Kunst [Writings on Literature and Art] (3 vols.). 1966.
Schriften zur Politik und Gesellschaft [Writings on Politics and Society] (1 vol.). 1967.
Bertolt Brecht, Gesammelte Werke, edited by Elisabeth Hauptmann (9 vols.). 1967; First three vols. translated as Collected Plays, edited by John Willett and Ralph Manheim, 1971; vol. 4 translated as Poems 1913-1956, 1976; vol. 5 translated as Short Stories 1921-1946, 1983.
Warren Hastings, Gouverneur von Indien: Schauspiel in vier Akten und einem Vorspiel, with Lion Feuchtwanger. 1916; as Kalkutta, 4. Mai: Drei Akte Kolonialgeschichte, 1925; translated as Warren Hastings, in Two Anglo-Saxon Plays, 1928.
Trommeln in der Nacht (produced Munich, 1922). 1922; revised version, in Stücke 1 , 1955; translated as Drums in the Night, and published in Jungle of Cities and Other Plays, 1966.
Baal (produced Leipzig, 1923). 1922; revised version produced Berlin, 1926, published in Stücke 1 , 1955; translated and published in Baal; A Man's a Man; The Elephant Calf, 1964.
Im Dickicht der Städte (produced Munich, 1923); revised version (produced Darmstadt, 1927). 1927; translated as In the Jungle of Cities, in Seven Plays, 1961.
Pastor Ephraim Magnus, with Arnolt Bronnen, adaptation of the work by Hans Henry Jahn (produced 1923).
Die Hochzeit (produced Frankfurt, 1926). As Die Kleinbürgerhochzeit, in Stücke 13, 1966; translated as A Respectable Wedding, in Collected Plays 1, 1970.
Mann ist Mann, with others (produced Darmstadt, 1926); revised version (produced Berlin, 1931). 1927; revised version, in Stücke 2, 1957; translated as Man Equals Man, in Seven Plays, 1961; as A Man's a Man, in Baal; A Man's a Man; The Elephant Calf , 1964.
Das Elefantkalb. Published with Mann ist Mann, 1927; translated as The Elephant Calf, in Wake, Autumn 1949; (in book form) in Baal; A Man's a Man; The Elephant Calf, 1964.
Die Dreigroschenoper, adaptation of Beggar's Opera by John Gay (opera libretto), music by Kurt Weill (produced Berlin, 1928). 1929; translated as The Threepenny Opera, in From the Modern Repertoire, edited by Eric Bentley, 1949.
Happy End, with Elizabeth Hauptmann (produced Berlin, 1929), music by Kurt Weill. Translated as Happy End, 1982.
Lindberghflug, with Elizabeth Hauptmann (produced Baden-Baden, 1929), music by Kurt Weill. 1929; retitled Der Ozeanflug.
Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny (opera libretto), music by Kurt Weill (produced Leipzig, 1930). Translated as The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, 1976.
Das Badener Lehrstück vom Einverständnis (opera libretto), music by Paul Hindemith (produced Baden-Baden, 1929). In Versuche 2, 1930; translated in Harvard Advocate, 134(4), February 1951.
Der Jasager, adaptation of Arthur Waley's translation of the Japanese play Taniko (opera libretto), music by Kurt Weill (produced Berlin, 1930). In Versuche 4, 1931; translated in Accent, 7(2), 1946; (in book form) as He Who Said Yes; He Who Said No, in The Measures Taken and Other Lehrstücke, 1977.
Die Massnahme (opera libretto), music by Hanns Eisler (produced Berlin, 1930). In Versuche 4, 1931; translated as The Measures Taken , in Colorado Review, 1(1), Winter 1956-57; (in book form) in The Measures Taken and Other Lehrstücke, 1977.
Die heilige Johanna der Schlachthöfe (opera libretto), music by Paul Dessau (produced Hamburg, 1959). In Versuche 5, 1932; translated as St. Joan of the Stockyards, in From the Modern Repertoire, edited by Eric Bentley, 1949.
Die Mutter, adaptation of the novel by Maxim Gorky (opera libretto), music by Hanns Eisler (produced Berlin, 1932). In Versuche 7, 1932; revised version in Gesammelte Werke 2, 1938; translated as The Mother, 1965.
Die sieben Todsünden der Kleinbürger (opera libretto), music by Kurt Weill (produced Champs-Élysées, France, 1933). 1959; translated as The Seven Deadly Sins of the Petty Bourgeoisie, in Tulane Drama Review, 6(1), 1961.
Die Rundköpfe und die Spitzköpfe (opera libretto), music by >Hanns Eisler (produced Copenhagen, 1934). In Gesammelte Werke 2, 1938; translated in International Literature (Moscow), 5, 1937; (in book form) as Roundheads and Peakheads, in Jungle of Cities and Other Plays , 1966.
Die Gewehre der Frau Carrar (produced Paris, 1937). In Gesammelte Werke 2, 1938; translated in Theatre Workshop, April-June, 1938; (in book form) as The Guns of Carrar, 1971; as Señora Carrar's Rifles, in Collected Plays 4, iii, 1983.
Furcht und Elend des Dritten Reiches (produced Paris, 1938). As Deutschland: Ein Greuelmärchen (13-scene version), 1941, 1944 (24-scene version); translated as Fear and Misery in the Third Reich (12-scene version), 1944; as ThePrivate Life of the Master Race (17-scene version), 1944; as Fear and Misery of the Third Reich (24-scene version), in Collected Plays 4, iii, 1983.
Die Ausnahme und die Regel (produced Palestine, 1938). In Gesammelte Werke 2, 1938; translated as The Exception and the Rule, in Chrysalis, 11-12, 1954; (in book form) in The Jewish Wife and Other Short Plays, 1965.
Die Horatier und die Kuratier (produced 1958). In Gesammelte Werke 2, 1938; translated as The Horatians and the Curatians, in Accent, 7(1), Autumn 1947.
Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder (produced Zurich, 1941; revised version, Berlin, 1949). In Versuche 9, 1949; revised edition, 1950; translated as Mother Courage and Her Children, 1941.
Der gute Mensch von Setzuan (produced Zurich, 1943). In Versuche 12, 1953; revised edition, 1958; translated as The Good Woman of Setzuan, in Parables for the Theatre, 1948; as The Good Person of Setzuan, in Plays 2, 1962.
Der kaukasische Kreidekreis (produced Northfield, Minnesota, 1948). In Two Parables for the Theatre, 1948.
Herr Puntila und sein Knecht Matti (produced Zurich, 1948). In Finnish translation, 1946; in Versuche 10, 1950; translated as Mr. Puntila and His Man Matti, in Collected Plays 6, iii, 1977.
Die Antigone des Sophokles, adaptation of Hölderlin's translation of Sophocles' play (produced Chur, Switzerland, 1948). As Antigonemodell, 1949; revised edition, 1955; translated as Antigone, 1989.
Der Hofmeister, adaptation of the play by J. M. R. Lenz (produced Berlin, 1950). In Versuche 11, 1951; translated as The Tutor, in Collected Plays 9, 1973.
Herrnburger Bericht (opera libretto), music by Paul Dessau (produced Berlin, 1951). 1951.
Das Verhör des Lukullus, adaptation of his own radio play (opera libretto), music by Paul Dessau (produced Berlin, 1951), subsequently retitled Die Verurteilung des Lukullus. 1951.
Der Prozess der Jeanne d'Arc zu Rouen 1431, adaptation of his own radio play (produced Berlin, 1952). In Stücke 12, 1959; translated as The Trial of Joan of Arc, in Collected Plays 9, 1973.
Der Gesichte des Simone Machard, with Lion Feuchtwanger (produced Frankfurt, 1957). In Sinn und Form, 5-6, 1956; (in book form) in Stücke 9, 1957; translated as The Visions of Simone Machard, 1965.
Die Tage des Kommune (opera libretto), music by Hanns Eisler (produced East Germany, 1956). In Versuche 15 and Stücke 10, both 1957; translated as The Days of the Commune, in Dunster Drama Review, 10(2), 1971; (in book form) 1978.
Pauken und Trompeten, adaptation of a play by Farquhar (produced 1956). In Stücke 12, 1959; translated as Trumpets and Drums, in Collected Plays 9, 1973.
Der aufhaltsame Aufstieg des Arturo Ui (produced Stuttgart, 1958). In Sinn und Form: Zweites Sonderheft Bertolt Brecht, 1957; (in book form) in Stücke 9, 1957; translated as The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, in Collected Plays 6, ii, 1976.
Schweyk im zweiten Weltkrieg (opera libretto), music by Hanns Eisler (produced Warsaw, 1957). In Stücke 10, 1957; translated as Schweyk in the Second World War, in Collected Plays 7, 1976.
Coriolan, adaptation of a play by William Shakespeare (produced Frankfurt, 1962). In Stücke 11, 1959; translated as Coriolanus, in Collected Plays 9, 1973.
Der Bettler oder der tote Hund. In Stücke 13, 1966; translated as The Beggar or the Dead Dog, in Collected Plays 1 , 1970.
Er treibt den Teufel aus. In Stücke 13, 1966; translated as Driving Out a Devil, in Collected Plays 1, 1970.
Lux in Tenebris. In Stücke 13, 1966; translated as Lux in Tenebris, in Collected Plays 1, 1970.
Der Fischzug. In Stücke 13, 1966; translated as The Catch, in Collected Plays 1, 1970.
Was kostet das Eisen (produced Stockholm, 1939). In Stücke 13, 1966.
Dansen. In Stücke 13, 1966.
Turandot; oder, Der Kongress der Weisswäscher (opera libretto), music by Hanns Eisler. 1967.
Berliner Requiem, 1929; Die heilige Johanna der Schlachthöfe, 1932.
Taschenpostille: Mit Anleitung, Gesangsnoten und einem Anhang. 1926.
Hauspostille: Mit Anleitung, Gesangsnoten und einem Anhang. 1927; as Manual of Piety: A Bilingual Edition, 1966.
Lieder, Gedichte, Chöre, music by Hanns Eisler. 1934.
Svendborger Gedichte; Deutsche Kriegsfibel; Chroniken: Deutsche Satiren für den deutschen Freiheitssender. 1939.
Selected Poems. 1947.
Hundert Gedichte, 1918-1950. 1951.
Buckower Elegien [Buckow Elegies]. 1953.
Gedichte und Lieder. 1956.
Selected Poems. 1959.
Ausgewählte Gedichte. 1960.
Poems on the Theatre. 1961.
Selected Poems. 1965.
Gedichte für Städtebewohner. 1980.
Gedichte aus dem Nachlass, 1913-1956. 1982.
Dreigroschenroman. 1934; as A Penny for the Poor, 1937; as Threepenny Novel, 1956.
Kalendergeschichten. 1948; as Tales from the Calendar, 1961.
Offener Brief an die deutschen Künstler und Schriftsteller. 1951.
Die Erziehung der Hirse, Nach dem Bericht von G. Frisch: Der Mann, der das Unmögliche wahr gemacht hat. 1951.
An meine Landsleute. 1951.
Lieder und Gesänge. 1957.
Die Geschäfte des Herrn Julius Caesar: Romanfragment. 1957.
Geschichten vom Herrn Keuner. 1958.
Brecht: Ein Lesebuch für unsere Zeit, edited by Elizabeth Hauptmann and Benno Slupianek. 1958.
Bertolt Brecht in Selbstzeugnissen und Bilddokumenten, edited by Paul Raabe. 1959.
Kleines Organon für das Theater: Mit einem "Nachtrag zum Kleinen Organon." 1960; as "A Short Organum for the Theatre" in Brecht on Theatre, 1964.
Helene Weigel, Actress: A Book of Photographs (translation). 1961.
Gespräch auf der Probe. 1961.
Dialoge aus dem Messingkauf. 1964.
Über Lyrik. 1964.
Ein Kinderbuch (for children). 1965.
Me-ti; Buch der Wendungen-Fragment. 1965.
Über Klassiker. 1965.
Über Theater. 1966.
Kühle Wampe: Protokoll des Films und Materialien. 1969.
Politische Schriften. 1970.
Über den Beruf des Schauspielers. 1970.
Über experimentelles Theater. 1970.
Brecht Fibel. 1970.
Herr Bertolt Brecht sagt. 1970.
Über die irdische Liebe und andere gewisse Welträtsel in Liedern und Balladen. 1971.
Über Politik auf dem Theater. 1971.
Über Politik und Kunst. 1971.
Über Realismus. 1971.
Arbeitsjournal 1938 bis 1955 (3 vols.). 1973.
Der Tui-Roman: Fragment. 1973.
Tagebücher 1920-1922: Autobiographische Aufzeichnungen 1920-1954. 1975; as Diaries 1920-1922, 1979.
Brecht in Gespräch. 1975.
Und der Haifisch, der hat Zähne: Die grossen Songs und Kleinen Lieder. 1977.
Ein gemeiner Kerl: Geschichten. 1978.
Der Städtebauer: Geschichten und Anekdoten 1919-1956. 1978.
Briefe. 1981; as Brecht Letters, 1989.
Ich leb so gern. 1982.
Über die bildenden Künste. 1983.
Fragen an Brecht. 1987.
Bertolt Brecht Journals. 1993.
Bad Time for Poetry: 152 Poems and Songs. 1995.*
Die Dreigroschenoper, 1931.
Brecht-Bibliographie by Gerhard Nellhaus, in first Bertolt Brecht issue of Sinn und Form (East Germany), 1949; Bertolt Brecht-Bibliographie by Walter Nubel, in second Bertolt Brecht issue of Sinn und Form, 1957; Bertolt-Brecht-Bibliographie by Klaus-Dietrich Petersen, 1968; "A Selected Brecht Bibliography" by Darko Suvin, Max Spalter, and Richard Schotter, in The Drama Review, 12(2), 1968, pp. 156-69; Bibliographie Bertolt Brecht by Gerhard Seidel and Gisela Kuntze, 1975; Twentieth-Century Theatre: Bertolt Brecht: Annotated Bibliography by Mark Russell, 2000.
The Theatre of Bertolt Brecht by John Willett, 1959; Brecht: A Choice of Evils, 1959, revised as Brecht: The Man and His Work, 1971, and Bertolt Brecht, 1969, both by Martin Esslin; Brecht; A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Peter Demetz, 1962; The Art of Bertolt Brecht by Walter Weideli, translated by Daniel Russell, 1963; Bertolt Brecht: His Life, His Art and His Times by Frederic Ewen, 1967; Brecht's Tradition by Max Spalter, 1967; Bertolt Brecht; The Despair and the Polemic by Charles R. Lyons, 1968; The Case against Bertolt Brecht, with Arguments Drawn from His Life of Galileo by Gerhard Szczesny, translated by Alexander Gode, 1969; Theatre of War; Comments on 32 Occassions, 1972, The Brecht Commentaries, 1943-1980, 1981, and The Brecht Memoir, 1985, all by Eric Bentley; Essays on Brecht: Theater and Politics, edited by Siegfried Mews and Herbert Knust, 1974; Bertolt Brecht by Claude Hill, 1975; Brecht, A Biography by Klaus Völker, translated by John Nowell, 1978; Towards Utopia: A Study of Brecht by Keith A. Dickson, 1978; Bertolt Brecht in America by James K. Lyon, 1980; Brecht in Perspective, edited by Graham Bartram and Anthony Waine, 1982; Brecht in Exile by Bruce Cook, 1983; Brecht in Context: Comparative Approaches by John Willett, 1984; Critical Essays on Bertolt Brecht, 1989, and A Bertolt Brecht Reference Companion, 1997; both edited by Siegfried Mews; The Cambridge Companion to Brecht by Peter Thomson and Glendyr Sacks, 1994; Brecht for Beginners by Michael Thoss, 1994; Brecht and Company: Sex, Politics, and the Making of the Modern Drama by John, Fuegi, 1994; Giles, Bertolt Brecht: Centenary Essays edited by Steve and Rodney Livingstone, 1998.
Theatrical Activities: Director: several of his own plays.* * *
Neither the gradual exclusion of the Jews from the German polity in the 1930s nor the Holocaust play a significant part in Bertolt Brecht's opus. One of the rare comments on the subject appears in a 1942 journal entry and focuses on the psychological function of racist ideology: "Nor is anti-semitism something that makes no sense, even if it is abominable. The nation was dealing with a spectre there. The bourgeoisie, which had never achieved power, thereby created a feeling of nationhood." Brecht's analysis of national Socialism derives primarily from a Marxist position. In his view the fascist dictatorship did not constitute a historical aberration but rather a "consistent" stage of late capitalism, logical in its brutality and its imperialist aggression. The notion that anti-Semitism was merely a symptom of the bourgeoisie's self-delusional weakness, limited to that particular class, as the above statement seems to imply, and, therefore, on a certain level, a given, may have drawn Brecht away from a direct confrontation with the Nazi program of genocide. While he devoted much of his career to exposing the horrors of fascism, both its victims and the heroic resistance fighters in his works tend to be marked by their class status. As a result his treatment of Nazism fell in line with one of the foundational myths of the German Democratic Republic, which pronounced itself "the winner of history" and the true home of the anti-fascist, Communist exiles. Although Brecht chose to settle in East Berlin after the war, his relationship with the Stalinist regime of the GDR until his death in 1956 was far from harmonious.
In the mid-1920s Brecht moved from Bavaria to Berlin, the mecca of German theater. He began to study the writings of Karl Marx and set out to formulate a sharp critique of contemporaneous theatrical practice. The centerpiece of his theory of the epic theater, the Verfremdungseffekt ("alienation effect"), is both a formal device and a philosophical principle designed to disrupt a "culinary" or empathetic reception of the action presented on the stage. Brecht intended to raise the spectators' level of critical-social consciousness and to enable them see the all-too-familiar world in an estranging manner. In 1931 Brecht and the composer Kurt Weill landed a spectacular and enigmatic hit with The Threepenny Opera , depicting bourgeois society as a criminal organization. Reflective of a growing commitment to communism and to revolutionary activism, Brecht wrote the Lehrstück ("play for learning") The Measures Taken with a new collaborator, Hanns Eisler. Because the play provided a coldly rational lesson in how to subordinate emotion to party discipline, it later became a matter of inquiry for the House Committee on Un-American Activities.
On 28 February 1933, a day after the Reichstag fire, Brecht and his family fled Germany. Throughout the many hardships of exile in Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and the United States, he tirelessly attacked the "house-painter" Hitler, whom he begrudgingly recognized as a "cunning" and "original" politician. Aside from his Marxist critique Brecht showed a keen interest in the ideological facade of Nazism and in the regime's ability to mobilize the masses through propaganda and theatrical spectacle. The parable play Roundheads and Pointed Heads (1934) suggests that the capitalists allowed the Nazis to foment anti-Semitism merely as a diversionary tactic obscuring the fact that the real social divisions were between the exploiters and the exploited. Señora Carrar's Rifles (1937) is set in Spain at the time of the Civil War and depicts the exemplary decision of a simple woman to take up arms and join the resistance against General Franco. The motivation for doing so, however, is personal revenge, not a political commitment. In Fear and Misery of the Third Reich (1938) Brecht brings out a sense of the futility of action and of the pervasive distrust of others in the experience of ordinary people. In a scene entitled "The Jewish Wife" a woman's insightful critique of the regime remains a private matter. Having decided to emigrate, she anxiously informs her friends and her self-deceiving husband that she is going away "for a time."
Brecht never criticized Joseph Stalin publicly, but his decision not to move from Finland to the nearby Soviet Union may have been motivated by the differences between the epic theater and the doctrine of social realism, which demanded a strictly mimetic representation of reality and an optimistic message. After his arrival in California in July 1941 Brecht revisited an older project, Schweyk in the Second World War, and turned it into an anti-fascist vehicle. Set in occupied Prague and on the Russian front, the play ridicules Hitler and other Nazi leaders and predicts their demise. Though mostly unsuccessful in Hollywood, Brecht was involved in one notable film project, Fritz Lang's Hangmen also Die. The film was a fictional account of the assassination by Czech resistance fighters of Reinhard Heydrich, the ruthless deputy Reich protector of Nazi-occupied Bohemia-Moravia.