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Brecht, Bertolt


Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631207535.1997.x


(1898–1956) German playwright, poet, director, and theoretician. One of the most influential theorists of drama in the twentieth century, especially in England and France, as well as in Germany, Brecht was born in Augsburg. His career generally divides into four stages: early plays, poems, and short stories, and his two operas (1914–30); his Lehrstücke , or learning plays (1930–33); plays written during his exile from Germany (1933–48); return to Germany, Austrian citizenship, establishment of the Berliner Ensemble, and adaptations of Shakespeare, Molière, and others. Coming of age during the 1914–18 war, Brecht studied medicine at the university in Munich, was drafted, and suffered traumatic experiences as a hospital orderly during the last months of the war. As a result, he espoused pacifism and a generally nihilistic attitude toward life. Settling in Berlin during the chaotic years of the Weimar Republic, he came under two main influences, M arxism and the theater. During his youth he had read the Manifesto and by 1926 he was studying Das Kapital . Though he never joined the Communist Party, he determined to change the world in accordance with M arxist principles. His interest in the theater, for which he had already written two plays, led Brecht to become an assistant to Max Reinhardt. At this point he developed a familiarity with the work of Erwin Piscator, a director ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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