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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Geschichten vom Herrn Keuner
- Zürcher Fassung -

Bertolt Brecht

general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author

To purchase Geschichten vom Herrn Keuner - Zürcher Fassung

Title: Geschichten vom Herrn Keuner - Zürcher Fassung
Author: Bertolt Brecht
Genre: Stories
Written: (2004)
Length: 125 pages
Original in: German
Availability: Geschichten vom Herrn Keuner - Zürcher Fassung - Deutschland
  • While most of Brecht's Keuner-stories were published in Stories of Mr. Keuner (City Lights, 2001), this 'Zürcher Fassung' contains fifteen texts that had never been published; these remain unavailable in English
  • Edited by Erdmut Wizisla
  • Includes numerous facsimiles
  • This is not a collected edition of Brecht's Keuner-stories: it only contains the 58 (out of a total of 121) that were found in the 'Zürcher Mappe' discovered in Decmeber 2000 in the estate of Renata Mertens-Bertozzi

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Our Assessment:

A- : multi-faceted, attractive Keuner-collection

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Neue Zürcher Zeitung . 14/9/2004 Martin Krumbholz
Die Weltwoche . (34/04) Julian Schütt

  From the Reviews:
  • "(D)en meisten der fünfzehn gewissermassen in den Zürichsee gefallenen Anekdoten, Aphorismen oder Fragmente fehlen die Eleganz und der dialektische Schliff, die den kanonischen Ruhm der Keuner-Geschichten begründet haben. (...) Anregend bleibt die Wiederbegegnung mit Herrn K., einer der rätselhaften Ikonen der Literaturgeschichte mit ihren klugen Statements und ihren (meist) zitierbaren Gesten." - Martin Krumbholz, Neue Zürcher Zeitung

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Bertolt Brecht's Keuner-pieces are among his most popular legacies. The concise aphorisms and short tales of Keuner, written over the course of decades, are both playful and serious, Keuner leading by not always obvious example. Most of the pieces were finally translated into English in 2001, as Stories of Mr. Keuner.
       In 2000 a folder with geschichten vom h k printed on the cover was found in the estate of a woman in Switzerland in whose house Brecht had lived in the late 1940s. Most of the contents were familiar, but among the pages were fifteen never before published Keuner-stories; Geschichten vom Herrn Keuner - Zürcher Fassung marks the first publication of these.
       The book also includes the previously published Keuner-texts that were in the folder -- presenting, all together, 58 pieces. Of particular interest are also the facsimile-reproductions of fourteen of the pages (with transcriptions printed facing them), showing Brecht's additions and subtractions to the texts.
       The fifteen previously unknown Keuner-stories are certainly a find: not the cream of the Keuner crop, perhaps, but at the very least of interest -- and with a few stand-outs. In some cases what's found here are mere starting points, but most are complete: all in all they make a welcome addition to the Keuner body of work.
       This book is a fine -- though not definitive -- Keuner collection. The fifteen new pieces alone may seem a bit little to warrant a separate publication of this sort, but what makes Geschichten vom Herrn Keuner - Zürcher Fassung worthwhile -- indeed, a must-have for Brecht-fans -- are the facsimile-texts. Reproductions of the front and back of the folder, the table of contents, and a generous selection of the pages gives the whole book a very different feel from the usual black-on-white text, the corrections, burn marks, and stains connecting author and reader in ways which the immaculate printed text can't. Alone the thin paper strip Brecht glued to the back cover, the words: "die wahrheit mein haus mein wagen !" ("the truth my house my car !") typed on it, a reminder (to himself as much as anybody) of what the Third Reich had taken from him, impresses in a way that the visual arts can and writing alone can't.
       Attractively presented (a rare trade-paperback-sized book that justifies its dimensions), and with an informative but not obtrusive afterword by Erdmut Wizisla, Geschichten vom Herrn Keuner - Zürcher Fassung is both literally and visually a pleasure and brings both Brecht and his very worthy Keuner closer to the reader.

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Geschichten vom Herrn Keuner - Zürcher Fassung: Bertolt Brecht: Other books by Bertolt Brecht under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       German author Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) is best known as a dramatist, but is also one of the most significant German writers of poetry and prose in the 20th century.

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© 2004-2021 the complete review

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