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Collected Plays, Volume 4

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The long-awaited volume of Brecht's classic plays from the 1930's Volume 4 of Brecht's Collected Plays contains works from the 1930's, straddling fateful years in German political and cultural history - as well as in Brecht's own life. Round Heads and Pointed Heads, based on Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, is a powerful political allegory on Nazi racial policy and condit The long-awaited volume of Brecht's classic plays from the 1930's Volume 4 of Brecht's Collected Plays contains works from the 1930's, straddling fateful years in German political and cultural history - as well as in Brecht's own life. Round Heads and Pointed Heads, based on Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, is a powerful political allegory on Nazi racial policy and conditions in the Germany Brecht had to leave in 1933. The Trial of Lucullus, a starkly pacifist text originally written in response to a commission from Swedish radio, portrays the Roman general tried by the Underworld for his military triumphs. Fear and Misery of the Third Reich, unique in Brecht's work, consists of some thirty short scenes of life under the Nazis between 1933 and 1938, designed for use by groups in exile. Señora Carrara's Rifles is based on J.M. Synge's Riders to the Sea, but relocated by Brecht in the Spanish Civil War. Also included are two one-act plays, Dansen and How Much is Your Iron?, minor works designed for amateurs in Scandinavia, where the Brechts lived till spring 1941.The volume includes an introduction and notes by Tom Kuhn and John Willett, as well as Brecht's own notes on the texts.


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The long-awaited volume of Brecht's classic plays from the 1930's Volume 4 of Brecht's Collected Plays contains works from the 1930's, straddling fateful years in German political and cultural history - as well as in Brecht's own life. Round Heads and Pointed Heads, based on Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, is a powerful political allegory on Nazi racial policy and condit The long-awaited volume of Brecht's classic plays from the 1930's Volume 4 of Brecht's Collected Plays contains works from the 1930's, straddling fateful years in German political and cultural history - as well as in Brecht's own life. Round Heads and Pointed Heads, based on Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, is a powerful political allegory on Nazi racial policy and conditions in the Germany Brecht had to leave in 1933. The Trial of Lucullus, a starkly pacifist text originally written in response to a commission from Swedish radio, portrays the Roman general tried by the Underworld for his military triumphs. Fear and Misery of the Third Reich, unique in Brecht's work, consists of some thirty short scenes of life under the Nazis between 1933 and 1938, designed for use by groups in exile. Señora Carrara's Rifles is based on J.M. Synge's Riders to the Sea, but relocated by Brecht in the Spanish Civil War. Also included are two one-act plays, Dansen and How Much is Your Iron?, minor works designed for amateurs in Scandinavia, where the Brechts lived till spring 1941.The volume includes an introduction and notes by Tom Kuhn and John Willett, as well as Brecht's own notes on the texts.

30 review for Collected Plays, Volume 4

  1. 4 out of 5

    sologdin

    Anti-fascist plays during the early phases of his exile from the pre-war Third Reich. Overall great stuff. 1934's Round Heads and Pointed Heads is said to be a loose adaptation of Measure for Measure, but is written into a transparent allegory of the Third Reich. The characters refer directly to "Brecht's effects" in the prologue, so it's definitely epic theater. NSDAP race theory is diminished as mere "physiognomy" (id.), which is a productive way to conceive of race doctrine. There's also somet Anti-fascist plays during the early phases of his exile from the pre-war Third Reich. Overall great stuff. 1934's Round Heads and Pointed Heads is said to be a loose adaptation of Measure for Measure, but is written into a transparent allegory of the Third Reich. The characters refer directly to "Brecht's effects" in the prologue, so it's definitely epic theater. NSDAP race theory is diminished as mere "physiognomy" (id.), which is a productive way to conceive of race doctrine. There's also something of Dutt's idea that fascism needs war to "furnish welcome markets for our wasted / Surpluses of grain" (scene 1). In the play, the fascists promise to redistribute property to peasants "soon"--when it is suggested that this is the same as what the rival leftwing group wants, it is protested that the polity gets the redistributed property under leftwing expropriation; apparently the rightwing version expropriates from specifically burdened citizens to the benefit of others (which is of course what the SS actually did). The narrative turns on a peasant uprising by the leftwing group, and the landowners need a thug to destroy the movement, both through prosecution of the war but also by disturbing the class of peasants along the fake round/pointed race distinction in order to split the movement's potential adherents. As soon as the peasant rebellion is beaten back, say, those who expected preferential treatment are no longer entitled to it because the fake race doctrine is less important than the "sacred right of property," contrary to the prior expectations of peasants influenced by that doctrine; peasants who might've joined the rebellion turn away from it because "my landlord is already under arrest" for racist reasons--ergo "there's no point joining the Sickle now" (scene 3). When the peasant wants rent relief, however, the Hitler analogue replies, "How can you talk of rent? That is the least of your injuries, a paltry thing" in comparison to his eagerly prostituting his daughter to rich members of the scapegoated minority group (scene 4); despite the rent not being relieved, the Hitler character proclaims the peasants "free" from spiritual exploitation: "O chastity, O priceless treasure, exalted poverty!" (scene 5). It is perhaps incorrect to criticize this play as a dreadfully wrong prediction about the course of history under the NSDAP; it is rather a thought experiment about what was occurring in the very early Third Reich, when labor organizers and leftists were consigned to concentration camps and antisemitism was being ramped up, but had not yet culminated in the Nuremberg Laws of 1935. It is doubtful that Brecht is trying to be prophetic, but instead adapted the familiar shakespearean text for polemical purposes, and remained constrained by the 'happy' ending--which demonstrates how comedy can always be brushed against the grain. His likely purpose is to jar citizens out of support for the NSDAP as a false workers party at a time when it might've reasonably been thought that changes in such support made a difference. The subjugated race is said to be driven by "base materialism," whereas the Hitler analogue is allegedly concerned with spiritual improvement of the nation (scene 2). He regards both the allegedly inferior race and the peasant rebellion to be part of "a foreign spirit alien to our blood" (scene 3), which is a characteristically incoherent formulation. His "lofty soul can scarce endure / To lower itself to base material things" (scene 6)--and yet "rent is property and so it's sacred" (id.). After the peasant crisis is resolved, his ideas are clarified: "My judgment wasn't aimed at property / But just at its abuse" (scene 7), which can be conceived tautologically in racist terms. We see a similarity to the contradictions offered by Sinclair Lewis' fascist in It Can't Happen Here, insofar as the dictator promises in demagogic manner mutually exclusive things to different groups: "grant us a big rent reduction! / At the same time / He should allow rents to climb / Lest landlords suffer destruction! / May he grant farmers a corn price which rises up steeply! / At the same time / Townsfolk believe it a crime / If they can't have their bread cheaply!" (id.) and so on. Downtrodden and poorly educated peasants identify with the illiberalism of "He says the Parliament is useless, too, and that's true" (scene 3). Regarding judicial process, he requires that "The court is no longer to restrict itself to the dry letter of the law, but must let itself be guided by the people's natural sense of justice" (scene 4), which is of course a recipe for disaster. Plenty more: miscegenation fear, bad gender ideology, extrajudicial execution--all the normal fascistic items. In the end, the Hitler analogue "managed, by your doctrine / Of round and pointed heads, to save the state / From mortal peril, and to resurrect / The precious order that we know and love" (scene 11)--which is not how history turned out, because here the fascist pitbull remained leashed to owners, and is perhaps the more normal way that fascists act, such as Trump and other current variants, using irrational xenophobias and racialism to maintain bourgeois class rule. 1937's Senora Carrar's Rifles - a bit less emphasis on 'epic' technique, this short text highlights the failure of remaining neutral during the Spanish Civil War. 1938's Fear and Misery of the Third Reich - a collection of 24 vignettes, with no obvious macro-narrative, except of course the unity of convincing NSDAP menace suffusing the setting. Very little of this menace is through the state, but rather comes from members of the SS and SA, private organizations of the party apparatus, which committed the pogroms and controlled the concentration camps. We see stormtroopers insisting that "any interference with our burgeoning fruit is the worst crime you can commit" (scene 3), consistent with ploetzian rassenhygiene. There're references to concentration camps for marxists and an uncommonly silly disavowal that "there are no conflicting interests in the Third Reich" (scene 7) from a senior judge. Physicians are to spy on patients, scientists are to avoid 'Jewish physics,' people seek to evacuate to Holland. Alienation effects appear, for instance, in how a leftwing worker helps a rich student with forced labor tasks, at the price of shared cigarettes: Group Leader: You owe it all to the Fuhrer. Student: Yes, Herr Group Leader. Group Leader: Shoulder to shoulder and no class barriers; that's his way. The Fuhrer wants no distinctions made in his labor camps. Nevermind who your dad is. Carry on! Student: I don't call that half a spit. Young Worker: Well, I do. Student: No cigarettes for today. Better remember there are an awful lot of people want cigarettes just as much as you. Young Worker: Yes, there are an awful lot of people like me. That's something we often forget. (scene 12) Plenty more, all great. "Germany needs guns, not butter" (scene 19). Worthy of one's attention.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Keith

    This is a set of plays Brecht completed at the start of his exile prior to the war. Most were started while he was in Germany, but they were finished and produced at various locations around Europe. They present a wide range of styles, from Brecht’s humorous poetry/song filled plays, to rather naturalistic plays, to agitprop plays. Fear and Misery in the Third Reich alone is worth the price of the book. Though not in a typically Brechtian style, it is very moving (and unnerving). Round Heads and This is a set of plays Brecht completed at the start of his exile prior to the war. Most were started while he was in Germany, but they were finished and produced at various locations around Europe. They present a wide range of styles, from Brecht’s humorous poetry/song filled plays, to rather naturalistic plays, to agitprop plays. Fear and Misery in the Third Reich alone is worth the price of the book. Though not in a typically Brechtian style, it is very moving (and unnerving). Round Heads and Pointed Heads *** – Although this is described as an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure (itself a strange play), the two plays don’t share a lot other than the bed switch. The Viceroy (Shakespeare’s Duke) doesn’t disguise himself to watch over Iberin (Angelo). Isabella is not the love interest of Iberin (and the character of Mariana doesn’t exist in Brecht’s play). Round Heads and Pointed Heads is, however, written in blank verse. With that clarification, Brecht has put together his usual entertaining and thought-provoking play full of songs and humor. The satire on the good-for-nothing landowners and the greedy nunnery is very amusing, as are the foolish peasants. Iberin’s decision to create division in the country between Zaks and Ziks is fascinating, but ill formed. I understand the idea of distracting people from their problems, but it isn’t developed fully. (And if Brecht thought Hitler’s pograms against Jews and Communists were simply a distraction so landlords/capitalist could maintain their wealth, he was proved horribly wrong.) The characters themselves lack the commitment (i.e., fervent, blinding racism) that I think is essential for it to be widespread. In the end, the play is a bit heavy on the political preaching. I felt at times like I was being beaten with the Sickle while reading this. That’s unfortunate because the play is otherwise thoughtful and lively. Fear and Misery in the Third Reich ***** – This powerful, moving play features 24 vignettes of life in pre-war Nazi Germany. It shows the terror and uncertainty of living in a spying, repressive regime, from parents concerned their young son may intentionally or unintentionally report what they say at home, to doctors confronting victims of SA (Brownshirt) torture, to a man returning from a concentration, to life within a concentration camp, and so on. (I assume some of these were based on stories he heard.) The stories, for the most part, are not sensational or full of outrageous injustice. It is their ordinariness – or forced ordinariness – that makes them so powerful. It’s how even mundane things – like talking around your child – can take on a sinister turn. It’s very moving. With just a few edits, these vignettes could depict life in Communist East Germany, yet Brecht was quick to go there following the war and he hardly registered any complaints while there. The constant spying, the gulags, the disappearance of people, the torture, the lack of rule of law – these all exemplify life in East Germany. To the ordinary German, Fascism and Communism were indistinguishable. It’s too bad Brecht could never see this. I highly recommend this play. Senora Carrar’s Rifles *** – This is far from the typical Brecht play. It’s a naturalistic play that emphasizes emotion over thought. There is no poetry, no songs, no humor. This hardly fits in his theory of Verfremdungseffekt (i.e., alienation/estrangement). Some (most?) people may like this play’s realistic telling and activists sentiment – especially if they don’t like Brecht’s other works. It’s done very well, but I prefer Brecht’s more unusual hybrid, morally complicated plays. This is a bit too heavy on the politics. Dansen/How Much Is Your Iron? ** – Two more plays urging readers/viewers to act in opposition to fascism. The Trial of Lucullus *** – This is a radio play about the judgment of the Roman general Lucullus in the afterlife. There are some nice sections and poetry (and I like the overall idea), but it doesn’t really hold together. I’d like to hear the opera.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ali

    اغلب اثار برتولد برشت به فارسی برگردانده شده؛ "سقراط مجروح" کیکاووس جهانداری / "در انبوه شهرها" عبدالرحمن صدریه / "استثناء و قاعده" محمود اعتماد زاده(م. به آذین) / "ان که گفت آری و آن که گفت نه" مصطفی رحیمی / زندگانی گالیله (گالیله ئو گالیله ئی) عبدالرحیم احمدی / "ترس و نکبت رایش سوم" شریف لنکرانی / "ننه دلاور و فرزندان او" مصطفی رحیمی / "آدم، آدم است" دو ترجمه از شریف لنکرانی و امین موید / "بچه فیل" و استنطاق لوکولوس" شریف لنکرانی / "زن نیک سچوان" دو ترجمه از فریده ی لاشایی و مهدی زمانیان / "دا اغلب اثار برتولد برشت به فارسی برگردانده شده؛ "سقراط مجروح" کیکاووس جهانداری / "در انبوه شهرها" عبدالرحمن صدریه / "استثناء و قاعده" محمود اعتماد زاده(م. به آذین) / "ان که گفت آری و آن که گفت نه" مصطفی رحیمی / زندگانی گالیله (گالیله ئو گالیله ئی) عبدالرحیم احمدی / "ترس و نکبت رایش سوم" شریف لنکرانی / "ننه دلاور و فرزندان او" مصطفی رحیمی / "آدم، آدم است" دو ترجمه از شریف لنکرانی و امین موید / "بچه فیل" و استنطاق لوکولوس" شریف لنکرانی / "زن نیک سچوان" دو ترجمه از فریده ی لاشایی و مهدی زمانیان / "دایره گچی قفقازی" دو ترجمه از حمید سمندریان و امین موید / "چهره های سیمون ماشار" دو ترجمه از عبدالرحمن صدریه و شریف لنکرانی / "داستان های آقای کوینر" سعید ایمانی / "داستان یک پولی"(اپرای یک پولی) هوشنگ پیرنظر / "تفنگ های ننه کارار" دو ترجمه از فریدون ایل بیگی و شریف لنکرانی / "ارباب پونتیلا و نوکرش مه آتی" سه ترجمه از عبدالرحمن صدریه، فریده ی لاشایی و رضا کرم رضایی / "درباره ی تیاتر" منیزه کامیاب و حسن بایرامی / "هیولا" همایون نوراحمر / "مادر" منیژه کامیاب و حسن بایرامی / "کله گردها و کله تیزها" بهروز مشیری / "بعل" خشایار قائم مقامی / "پیرزنی که پیر نمی نمود" کامران فانی / "گفتگوی فراریان" خشایار قائم مقامی / "اقداماتی علیه زور" ناصر صفایی / "حیوان محبوب آقای کوینر" / ناصر صفایی / "اگر کوسه ماهی ها آدم بودند" بهروز تاجور / "شوایک در جنگ جهانی دوم" دو ترجمه؛ حمید علوی، فرامرز بهزاد / "عظمت و انحطاط شهر ماهاگونی" مهدی اسفندیارفرد / "قطعه آموزشی" مینو ملک خانی / "اندیشه های متی" عبدالله کوثری / "محاکمه ی ژاندارک در روان" عبدالله کوثری / "صلیب گچی" سیاوش بیدارفکر / "قیمت آهن چنده" رضا کرم رضایی / "کریولانوس" مهدی تقوی / "اپرای سه پولی" علی اکبر خداپرست / "ژان مقدس کشتارگاه" دو ترجمه از جواد شمس و ابوالحسن ونده ور / "صعود مقاومت پذیر ارتورو اویی" افرویدون / "زندگی تیاتری من" فریدون ناظری / "روزهای کمون" کاووسی (فریده لاشایی) /"درباره تیاتر" فرامرز بهزاد / و بسیاری دیگر از آثار نوشتاری و مجموعه ی اشعار برشت

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tim Balzer

  5. 4 out of 5

    Shobeir

  6. 4 out of 5

    Alex Catlett

  7. 5 out of 5

    Bob Cat

  8. 5 out of 5

    Point

  9. 5 out of 5

    Aleksandra Polovina

  10. 5 out of 5

    Abumidian

  11. 5 out of 5

    Justin Schwartz

  12. 4 out of 5

    John

  13. 5 out of 5

    Drew

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lynnt

  15. 4 out of 5

    Amber Hodge

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bahman Bahman

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jim

  18. 4 out of 5

    Yvonne

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bahar Ranjbar

  20. 5 out of 5

    Louise

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jason

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kim Tully

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nazly

  25. 5 out of 5

    Filip Mihaylov

  26. 5 out of 5

    nastaran

  27. 5 out of 5

    Noah

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ellie

  29. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

  30. 5 out of 5

    Bernardo

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