Talk:Bertolt Brecht/Archive 2

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Archive 1 Archive 2 Archive 3

Dubiousness of BBs Communism

Several places in the article lays very heavy emphasis on Brechts purported communism. I believe this to be misplaced and misleading. Please consider the following aspects of BBs biography:

1) A well known Brecht remark criticising the East German government: At one point the government expressed consternation at protests by East German workers, stating that the population would now have to work twice as hard to regain the confidence of the government. BBs wry remark was: "Why doesn't the government dissolve the population and elect a new one"?
2) Brecht initially expressed great enthusiasm for US society upon arriving as a refugee. It was only after the humiliation of being called to account for his alleged anti-American activities that he became more critical.
3) Whatever his ideas about how to arrange society, in his personal dealing BB was cutthroat businessman, with many collaborators complaining that he took advantage of them.

Usually people who push the notion of BB's communism point to his time in East Berlin running a theatre. But other observers point out that there was likely to have been a good measure of calculation and opportunism in this decision: Brecht liked the idea of managing his own theater, and the DDR was paying..

Brecht certainly was sympathic to some socialist ideals, but to present him as a revolutionary or an uncritical mouthpiece for party propaganda is definitely a misrepresentation. For these reasons, I am tempted to emend the text at least to present the alternative viewpoint. In keeping with standard practice, I'm asking for opinions first.

--Philopedia 05:34, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

I agree wholeheartedly. Many of the aspects of the article you're referring to were added by an editor who, from what I can see, appears stuck in McCarthy's USA waving a wee stars and stripes flag. The communist party links are there to discredit, I believe, and to enable a Cold War rhetoric. I certainly wouldn't endorse the Esslin-style depoliticization, but as you say the relation to the Party is dubious at best. Be Bold, and edit! DionysosProteus 11:53, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for your encouragement, DionysosProteus. Three months have passed since I brought up the issue and no one has expressed a conflicting viewpoint. Today I made some modest adjustments to moderate the emphasis, POV and speculation. If no one speaks up, I may feel encouraged to make further changes.

--Philopedia (talk) 02:02, 5 February 2008 (UTC)

I must agree. My mother (Sorrel Carson) and father (John Hanau) worked with Brecht in East Berlin and as a child I met Brecht and Lotte Lenya (they actually signed the wall of a room in our flat in East Berlin). Sorrel was assisting Brecht with the translation of Playboy of the Western World [1] and my (director) father was directing at the Deutsches Theater [2] and involved with the Berliner Ensemble.

Brecht told my father that he was very concerned about the direction that the East German Communist Party was heading and indicated that like my father "his political leanings were now towards Anarcho Syndicalism" (my father confided in me later).

Shortly after that meeting my father made remarks that offended the communist authorities (he loved offending any authority whatsoever) but having left Berlin to holiday with a mistress in Capri (he also had a wonderful sense of timing), the Stasi arrested and later deported myself (age about 7) and my mother.

It would be interesting if anyone here has access to the extensive surviving Stasi records to see how they viewed his (Brecht's) politics.

P. S. From what I now know it is highly probable that the Stasi had bugged our apartment (just near the rebuilt Stalinallee - I forget the actual street name and number) and so it is just possible a transcript of the conversation between my father and Brecht exists in their records. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Aimulti (talkcontribs) 04:43, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

A bit much, no?

Would someone mind changing "Olga Taxidou offers a perspicuous account" in the Biblio #3 a bit? Using "perspicuous" on Wikipedia is a little obtuse and grandiose (ha). Not to mention, the word means "clear, obvious, lucid, etc" so really, it seems out of place to tart it up so much--meaning NO offense at all to the editor. "Straight-forward" might work--I didn't want to change it myself, because I haven't read the piece, and I don't quite understand what the original editor meant. I know it's minor, but it was bugging me. Thanks. Kyraven (talk) 22:29, 7 January 2008 (UTC)

Agreed. It was a moment of madness. Changed to "critical". DionysosProteus (talk) 16:35, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

Difficulties of style

There are a lot of interesting things in the article. However I consider the style too difficult for an encyclopedia. I have a doctorate and there are sentences I don't understand. So, if someone would like to make an effort - the article needs to be more accessible to the General reader. "Procrustean" and other such vocabulary can be avoided. Johncmullen1960 (talk) 09:13, 30 March 2008 (UTC)

The majority of technical terms in the intro (taking no responsibility for content halfway through onwards) are wikilinked and all the intro material was taken from introductions to the subject in other works (see note #1). I'm sure the phrasing could be improved, but the aesthetic and cultural terms are important. The introduction attempts to place him in his relevant context and to mention the main ideas and practices. The example you give--"procrustean"--is not part of the article, strictly speaking, as it comes within a quotation from Willett that explains part of the context/significance (and only appears in the article in a footnote). While we may or may not excuse Willett his verbal flourish, we can't really change it (unless someone else has said more or less the same thing in a simpler way). I used the source I had to hand. Feel free to offer as many examples as you think necessary - that'll give a clearer idea of the specific sentences that could be looked at. DionysosProteus (talk) 16:49, 17 September 2008 (UTC)
I've spent a little while copy-editing the Introduction. I've wikified a lot more of it, trying not to assume familiarity with any critical term. The same material is there, but I think it's a little more readable. Also expanded the list of influences (Karl Korsch, Mei Lanfang, Frank Wedekind) and added those practitioners discussed in the "Brecht's Legacy" essay of the Cambridge Guide (essay by Michael Patterson). Also added those critical theory philosophers influenced by him (Louis Althusser & Roland Barthes). The old image had some copyright concerns, so I've replaced it with a free one from the commons. Take a look at the new version and see if that has helped. DionysosProteus (talk) 19:03, 17 September 2008 (UTC)


Shouldn't the eldest son, Frank (1920-1943) be mentioned in the introductory table as well as his three other children? The German wiki has a short article on Frank's mother, Paula Banholzer. Katie1971 ( Let's talk!! ) 16:24, 8 April 2008 (UTC)

Absolutely. Adding him now. DionysosProteus (talk) 16:49, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

Theory Wrong!

The first sentence in the theory part is totally wrong and must be changed. In organum, he says the only purpose of the theater is to entertain. I could only find this page to report it and make it changed. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:23, 26 May 2008 (UTC)

Yes, the whole theory section is as dodgy as a threepenny note. Haven't got around to that bit yet. Last time I had any time for the article, I was working my way through chronologically. Reached Threepenny so far. Most below that needs serious attention. DionysosProteus (talk) 16:49, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

A piece by an hitheto unknown author attributed to Brecht

Perhaps someone wishes to incorporate the information in the following article in the biography:

Fundstük in Alter Zeitung: Wissenschaftler entdeckt bislang unbekannten Brecht-Text (Finding in Old Newspaper: Scientist discovers an hitherto unknown text by Brecht), Saturday, June 21, 2008, Spiegel Online.

Kind regards, --BF 12:02, 22 June 2008 (UTC).

Image copyright problem with Image:Dreigroschenoper.JPG

The image Image:Dreigroschenoper.JPG is used in this article under a claim of fair use, but it does not have an adequate explanation for why it meets the requirements for such images when used here. In particular, for each page the image is used on, it must have an explanation linking to that page which explains why it needs to be used on that page. Please check

  • That there is a non-free use rationale on the image's description page for the use in this article.
  • That this article is linked to from the image description page.

This is an automated notice by FairuseBot. For assistance on the image use policy, see Wikipedia:Media copyright questions. --06:02, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

Edits to early life section

I've cleaned up the early life section, making the following changes: Removing unsourced (and US biased) statement about schools; correcting Kutscher's name to as it appears in sources; removing duplicated material on Valentin and that which narrated deleted image; kept claim about numerous visits to Valentin, but requested a citation; removed unused name for Drums (belongs on the play's page); removed this note[1] - I'm sure it's true, but needs a source; moved McDowell citation into biblio and adopted author-date MLA system; trimed the detail about Barbershop - most of it belongs on (and is on) that article's page; turned that citation into author-date format; differentiated between Marlowe's and Brecht's plays; removed duplicate (and fuzzier) info on directorial debut (first solo, not first).

I've tried to turn this citation into MLA author-date, and realised it's missing a lot of information. I've not cut the info it gives yet:

  • Culbert, David. 1995. "Article title?." Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television volume:number (March): page start-page end.
  • [Bibliographic information on this article is missing at present - need article title, is this the author of article?, and page numbers]

DionysosProteus (talk) 20:59, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

grave picture


Is it just me, or is the grave picture an obvious fake? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Seaj11 (talkcontribs) 17:21, 24 March 2009 (UTC)

You mean File:Brechtgrave.jpg, uploaded by Smerus (talk · contribs) in January 2006? Given File:Grab-Brecht-Weigel.JPG (see right), I doubt it's a fake. Michael Bednarek (talk) 05:17, 25 March 2009 (UTC)