By John J. White
As a vital part of his paintings as a political playwright and dramaturge, Bertolt Brecht involved himself greatly with the speculation of drama. He was once confident that the Aristotelian perfect of viewers catharsis via identity with a hero and the ensuing adventure of terror and pity labored opposed to his target of enhancing society. He didn't want his audiences to consider, yet to imagine, and his major theoretical thrusts -- "Verfremdungseffekte" (de-familiarization units) and epic theater, between others -- have been conceived in pursuit of this aim. this is often the 1st designated learn in English of Brecht's writings at the theater to take account of works first made to be had within the fresh German version of his amassed works. It deals in-depth analyses of Brecht's canonical essays at the theater from 1930 to the overdue Nineteen Forties and early GDR years. shut readings of the person essays are supplemented by way of surveys of the altering connotations inside Brecht's dramaturgical oeuvre of key theoretical phrases, together with epic and anti-Aristotelian theater, de-familiarization, historicization, and dialectical theater. Brecht's specified contribution to the theorizing of performing and viewers reaction is tested intimately, and every theoretical essay and proposal is positioned within the context of the classy debates of the time, subjected to a severe review, and regarded in mild of next scholarly pondering. in lots of circumstances, the playwright's theoretical discourse is proven to hire tools of "epic" presentation and methods of de-familiarization which are corollaries of the dramatic strategies for which his performs are justly well-known. John J. White is Emeritus Professor of German and Comparative Literature at King's university London.
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Additional info for Bertolt Brecht's Dramatic Theory (Studies in German Literature and Culture)
Sie enthalten nicht komplette Definitionen und rufen deshalb bei dem sie Studierenden oft Mißverständnisse hervor, die ihn hindern, produktiv theoretisch mitzuarbeiten. Besonders der Opernaufsatz zu “Mahagonny” bedarf einiger Zusätze, damit die Diskussion fruchtbar werden kann. Man hat aus ihm herausgelesen, daß ich “gegen das Gefühlsmäßige für das Verstandesmäßige” Stellung nehme. Das ist natürlich nicht der Fall. [. ] Daß ich mich nur an den Verstand wenden wolle, finden meist die Leute, welche bei meinen Arbeiten nur verstandesmäßig mitkommen (oder jedenfalls glauben, sie kämen mit), gefühlsmäßig aber streiken.
Und der Begriff Praxis bekommt eine ganz neue mächtige Bedeutung. (GBA, 26:439) With the publication of the Große kommentierte Berliner und Frankfurter Ausgabe, Brecht scholars now have an indispensable tool at their disposal. The volumes devoted to the theoretical writings bring together some 1700 works, of which only 300 were published in the writer’s lifetime. Over 400 items appear here in print for the first time. Yet unfortunately, because of the editorial principles applied to the entire edition, the theory volumes exclude many further relevant remarks to be found in Brecht’s published and unpublished correspondence and in his journals.
He concedes that it may be sociology’s “einfache und radikale Funktion” to prove that “dieses Drama keine Existenzberechtigung mehr hat” (GBA, 21:202). But he refuses to let the matter rest there — understandably, since in Sternberg’s diagnosis “dieses Drama” means all drama. In a move calculated to accentuate the incompatibility of their views (but evidently intended to persuade Brecht to abandon his position and return to the purely sociological fold), Sternberg had concluded his open letter with the specific charge already intimated in his title: namely, that Brecht himself, who is assumed for argument’s sake to share Sternberg’s diagnosis, is at the same time part of the problem.