Skip to main content

Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

See other formats


boyhood and youth. It is completed by Autobiographische Skkgen
und Fragments in the sixth volume of his Samtliche Werke (5 vols.,
1930; 6 vols., 1948 if.) and by Em Leben in Briefen (1947).

To the group of activists centred round Die A.ktion belonged
Bert Brecht and Arnolt Bronnen, BERT(OLT) BRECHT (1898-1956),
an Augsburg man, began with Baa/ (1922), the drama of a Wede-
kindian Frauenverwuster, and won his way through with Trommeln
in der Nacht (1922): a returned soldier finds his wife living with
another man. Im Dicfdcht der Stddte (1924) is a cinematographic
picture of Chicago with the glare of contrasts that is usual in films:
a proletarian faces a yellow plutocrat, dingy attic alternates with
Chinese hotel, Chinese bars, and all the thicket of Chicago. Leben
Eduards II. von England (1924) is an adaptation, in collaboration
with Lion Feuchtwanger, of Marlowe's tragedy. Mann ist Mann
(1927) is a khaki comedy: an Irish packer goes out to buy a fish for
his wife and reappears as a machine gunner of Kulkoa. Die Drei-
groschenoper (1928) - a great success as drama, opera (set to music
by Kurt Weill), and film - is basically an adaptation of Gay's The
Beggar's Opera (1728), but is drastically reshaped to a Marxist ex-
posure of the capitalistic society of today, and, with its songs
distilled from Villon and Kipling, parodies heroic opera. Drei-
groschenroman (1934) is a variation by way of a novel. This genre
of epische Oper, as Brecht terms his innovation, is continued in
A.ufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny (1929), which satirizes the
barbarism and decked up culture of our great cities; it was also
set to music by Kurt Weill. Today Brecht is known as a poet
committed heart and soul to Communist propaganda; typical of
this is the very title of his play T&adener 'Lehrstuck (1929). The plays
which directly follow are classified as L,ehrstucke. In Die Massnahme
(1931) we have what is now the stereotyped 'confession' of a
Communist 'comrade' before he is executed. Der Plug der Lind-
berghs (1930) is a paean to man and the elements he conquers. Die
heilige Johanna'der Schlachthofe (1932) in a final tableau parodies
Schiller's Die Jungfrau von Orleans \ a Salvation Army lassie perishes
because she fails to convert the capitalists of Chicago. In 1933
Brecht exiled himself and in 1941 reached the United States by
way of Vladivostok, where he joined company with other Com-
munist faigr/s. In 1948 he was back in Berlin. Several of the plays
which follow are world-famous because they exemplify his prin-
ciple of epic realism and what is considered his revolutionary