Bertolt Brecht

Centenary Essays


The publication of this volume of essays marks the centenary of the birth of Bertolt Brecht on 10 February 1898. The essays were commissioned from scholars and critics around the world, and cover six main areas: recent biographical controversies; neglected theoretical writings; the semiotics of Brechtian theatre; new readings of classic texts; Brecht’s role and reception in the GDR; and contemporary appropriations of Brecht’s work. This volume will be essential reading for all those interested in twentieth century theatre, modern German studies, and the contemporary reassessment of post-war culture in the wake of German unification and the collapse of Stalinist communism in Central and Eastern Europe.
The essays in this volume also address a variety of general questions, concerning - for example - authorship and textuality; the nature of Brecht’s Marxism in relation to his understanding of modernity, science and Enlightenment reason; Marxist aesthetics; radical cultural politics; and feminist performance theory.

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Preface. Tom KUHN: Bertolt Brecht and notions of collaboration. Julian PREECE: The many faces of B.B. in fiction and memoir: from Fleisser and Feuchtwanger to Canetti and Weiss. Christina UJMA: 'Der strenge und der schwärmende Ton'. Notes on Bloch and Brecht in the Twenties and Thirties. Steve GILES: Marxist aesthetics and cultural modernity in Der Dreigroschenprozeß. Rodney LIVINGSTONE: Brecht's Me-ti: a question of attitude. Florian VASSEN: A new poetry for the big city: Brecht's behavioural experiments in Aus dem Lesebuch für Städtebewohner. John J. WHITE: Brecht and semiotics: semiotics and Brecht. Freddie ROKEM: The meaning of the circle in Brecht's theatre. Mark W. ROCHE: Comic reduction and comic negation in Brecht. Anne MOSS: Limits of reason: an exploration of Brecht's concept of Vernunft and the discourse of science in Leben des Galilei. Terry HOLMES: The suppressed science of society in Leben des Galilei. Jürgen THOMANECK: B. Brecht and A. Seghers: utopian additions to the critique of the Gotha programme. Peter DAVIES and Stephen PARKER: Brecht, SED cultural policy and the issue of authority in the arts: the struggle for control of the German Academy of Arts. Renate RECHTIEN: Relations of production? Christa Wolf's extended engagement with the legacy of Bertolt Brecht. Astrid HERHOFFER: Brecht: an aesthetics of conviction? Carl WEBER: Is there a use-value? Brecht on the American stage at the turn of the century. Meg MUMFORD: 'Dragging' Brecht's gestus onwards: a feminist challenge. Notes on Contributors.