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the Complete Review
the complete review - criticism

Brecht in der Kritik

edited by
Monika Wyss

general information | our review | links

Title: Brecht in der Kritik
Editor: Monika Wyss
Genre: Reviews
Written: (1977)
Length: 524 pages
Original in: German
Availability: Brecht in der Kritik - Deutschland
  • Rezensionen aller Brecht-Uraufführungen
  • Edited by Monika Wyss
  • With introductory and connecting texts by Helmut Kindler
  • Includes brief biographies of the most significant theatre critics of the Weimar era
  • Brecht in der Kritik is not available in English

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Our Assessment:

-- : fascinating collection, useful reference work

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       Brecht in der Kritik collects in one volume representative reviews of all the world premieres of all of Bertolt Brecht's dramas (and a few films), as well as some later reviews (including of various premieres at various locales -- first East German premiere of specific plays, first West German one, etc.) and a selection of reviews of foreign premieres (in countries from Egypt to Japan).
       It is a fascinating collection. Introductory texts by Helmut Kindler provide background and context, and these alone make for a good overview of Brecht's theatrical career. But it is the reception of the pieces -- and specifically that initial reception (as these reviews are mainly of the first productions of the plays) -- that makes it so valuable.
       The critics are a varied lot. An appendix provides brief biographies of the most significant theatre critics of the Weimar era who are represented here, among them Herbert Ihering, Alfred Kerr, and Bambi-author Felix Salten. There are many others too, including: Thomas Mann, Theodor W. Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Anna Seghers, Max Frisch, Hans Weigel and Jan Kott.
       There is a focus on the stages of Brecht's theatrical career, as much as on the plays itself. The progression from Munich to Berlin, then the rootless years of exile (with premieres in Moscow, Paris, Stockholm, Zurich, and elsewhere), and then the complex post-war situation Brecht found himself in (living in East Berlin while essentially a dramatist non grata in West Germany and Austria (despite, at that time, holding Austrian citizenship)), all of it can be followed in the reviews.
       These initial reviews particularly highlight what Brecht's plays meant in their time: the expectations of the critics (and audiences) and the surrounding theatrical scene of the times. As Brecht's plays were often not immediately produced, or premiered in unusual circumstances (the 1938 world premiere of Die Ausnahme und die Regel at the kibbutz Givat Chaim, in what was then still Palestine, for example) this also means there are surprisingly varied contexts to consider. Helpfully, Wyss also includes later reviews of some productions as a point of comparison (and to highlight differing approaches to and reception of the pieces), thus, for example, offering reviews of the Berlin world premiere of The Mother (1932), a review of the 1951 Berliner Ensemble production (the Brecht-led East Berlin theatre), a 1953 production in Vienna (when Brecht was basically still being boycotted in Austria), and a 1970 revival in West Berlin.

       Brecht in der Kritik is, of course, a reference work, not a book to be read through from beginning to end. It is a particularly useful companion volume to the pieces, different from the usual exegetic criticism and offering a perspective that is generally not as readily available (or else provided only through the distorting lens of present day points of view). Certainly recommended to all those interested in Brecht's dramas.

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Bertolt Brecht: Books by Bertolt Brecht under review: Other books of interest under review:

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