Winter 1964 • Vol. XXVI No. 1 NonfictionJanuary 1, 1964 |

Bertolt Brecht’s First Play

The fame of Brecht's later plays has been bad for the reputation of his earlier ones, and in combating this phenomenon one is combating some powerful preconceptions. It is assumed, for example, that a major writer steadily improves. Early works are automatically placed in such categories as "juvenilia" and "apprenticeship." Also, the earlier work is judged by criteria suggested by the later. Brecht himself judged his early work in this way. Which compounded the problem, and created the cliché. The cliché reads as follows: the later Brecht was a great man who found himself in finding a great philosophy. The early Brecht was a confused and misguided young fellow who would never have come to any good had he not found the great philosophy and, through it, his greater self. In other words, the early work represents the sin from which Marxism redeemed him. The early Brecht is the unregenerate Saul; the late Brecht the Sainted Paul. Now, this cliché is the more important because it has

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By Eric Bentley

The fame of Brecht's later plays has been bad for the reputation of his earlier ones, and in combating this phenomenon one is combating some powerful preconceptions. It is assumed, […]

Comment

By Eric Bentley

The fame of Brecht's later plays has been bad for the reputation of his earlier ones, and in combating this phenomenon one is combating some powerful preconceptions. It is assumed, […]

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