counter Bertolt Brecht: A Literary Life (Biography and Autobiography) - Free Download Books
Hot Best Seller

Bertolt Brecht: A Literary Life (Biography and Autobiography)

Availability: Ready to download

This first English language biography of Bertolt Brecht (1898–1956) in two decades paints a strikingly new picture of one of the twentieth century's most controversial cultural icons. Drawing on letters, diaries and unpublished material, including Brecht's medical records, Parker offers a rich and enthralling account of Brecht's life and work, viewed through the prism of t This first English language biography of Bertolt Brecht (1898–1956) in two decades paints a strikingly new picture of one of the twentieth century's most controversial cultural icons. Drawing on letters, diaries and unpublished material, including Brecht's medical records, Parker offers a rich and enthralling account of Brecht's life and work, viewed through the prism of the artist. Tracing his extraordinary life, from his formative years in Augsburg, through the First World War, his politicisation during the Weimar Republic and his years of exile, up to the Berliner Ensemble's dazzling productions in Paris and London, Parker shows how Brecht achieved his transformative effect upon world theatre and poetry. Bertolt Brecht: A Literary Life is a powerful portrait of a great, compulsively contradictory personality, whose artistry left its lasting imprint on modern culture.


Compare

This first English language biography of Bertolt Brecht (1898–1956) in two decades paints a strikingly new picture of one of the twentieth century's most controversial cultural icons. Drawing on letters, diaries and unpublished material, including Brecht's medical records, Parker offers a rich and enthralling account of Brecht's life and work, viewed through the prism of t This first English language biography of Bertolt Brecht (1898–1956) in two decades paints a strikingly new picture of one of the twentieth century's most controversial cultural icons. Drawing on letters, diaries and unpublished material, including Brecht's medical records, Parker offers a rich and enthralling account of Brecht's life and work, viewed through the prism of the artist. Tracing his extraordinary life, from his formative years in Augsburg, through the First World War, his politicisation during the Weimar Republic and his years of exile, up to the Berliner Ensemble's dazzling productions in Paris and London, Parker shows how Brecht achieved his transformative effect upon world theatre and poetry. Bertolt Brecht: A Literary Life is a powerful portrait of a great, compulsively contradictory personality, whose artistry left its lasting imprint on modern culture.

30 review for Bertolt Brecht: A Literary Life (Biography and Autobiography)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mandy

    This book is not for the faint-hearted. The first English language biography of playwright and poet Bertolt Brecht for 20 years, it’s a long, meticulously researched and detailed account of this controversial and important figure of 20th century literary life, and a powerful evocation of the man and artist in his historical and political context. Exhaustive and scholarly, it is perhaps more for the specialist and serious student than the general reader, but the book cannot be faulted for its sco This book is not for the faint-hearted. The first English language biography of playwright and poet Bertolt Brecht for 20 years, it’s a long, meticulously researched and detailed account of this controversial and important figure of 20th century literary life, and a powerful evocation of the man and artist in his historical and political context. Exhaustive and scholarly, it is perhaps more for the specialist and serious student than the general reader, but the book cannot be faulted for its scope and erudition. Drawing on letters, diaries, recently released archives and much previously unpublished material, it is a full and comprehensive biography, which references Brecht’s prodigious output of plays, poems, journalism, diaries and letters, as well as his medical records. The minutiae of his life are set against the turbulent first half of the 20th century, and situate him firmly in his place and time. From a purely personal point of view I found it a heavy-going read, but it is an important book which will certainly become an essential resource for all Brecht enthusiasts and full deserving of a 5* review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    For the anti-Fascist emigre, the USA's continuing neutrality in the war was deeply frustrating. He could not forget the 'butchery 15,000 kilometers away, which is deciding our fate across Europe at its broadest point, is only an echo in the hubbub of the art-market here.' At a time when Nazi Germany was destroying Europe, Brecht, his status diminished to picaresque survivor, had become a bit-player in the capitalist swindle. Brecht concluded a letter to his translator Hoffman Hays: 'The worst of For the anti-Fascist emigre, the USA's continuing neutrality in the war was deeply frustrating. He could not forget the 'butchery 15,000 kilometers away, which is deciding our fate across Europe at its broadest point, is only an echo in the hubbub of the art-market here.' At a time when Nazi Germany was destroying Europe, Brecht, his status diminished to picaresque survivor, had become a bit-player in the capitalist swindle. Brecht concluded a letter to his translator Hoffman Hays: 'The worst of it is that everybody here is trying to convert himself and everybody else into a hundred per cent American in record time, it makes me feel rather seasick.' Brecht was himself congenitally incapable of the rapid assimilation that was so much part of the US success story. He observes: 'Odd, I can't breathe in this climate. The air is totally odourless, morning and evening, in both house and garden. There are no seasons here. It has been part of my morning routine to lean out of the window and breathe in fresh air; I have cut this out of my routine here. There is neither smoke nor the smell of grass to be had.' After the splendid richness of the air at Marlebaeck, Brecht recoiled from the garish excesses of Hollywood, amusing himself by looking for price tags on trees and hills: 'You are constantly either a buyer or a seller, you sell your piss, as it were, to the urinal. Opportunism is regarded as the greatest virtue, politeness becomes cowardice.' In a 'state set up directly by the bourgeoisie, which is not for one moment ashamed of being bourgeois,' Brecht had recourse, as we have suggested, to the restrained public manner of a 'Chinese' politeness. He recorded his life as a jobbing scriptwriter in the cycle, 'Hollywood Elegies,' a typically ironic and laconic take on a genre normally associated with rueful responses to loss. The elegy became a staple. The most famous piece in the cycle is 'Hollywood': 'Every day, to earn my daily bread / I go to the market where lies are bought / In hope / I take up my place among the sellers.' For Brecht, everything in California had been commodified, any sense of history and culture lost in a society where only the market, lubricated by credit, counted. Brecht reflected upon Shelly's words about the City of London: 'I / Who live in Los Angeles and not in London / Find, on thinking about Hell, that it must be / Still more like Los Angeles'. When he showed the elegies to his friend Hans Winge, an Austrian writer who worked in an underwear factory, Winge remarked: 'It's as if they'd been written from Mars.' Brecht and Winge formed the view that this 'detachment' was not a 'peculiarity of the writer's, but a product of this town.' It was the product of Brecht's sharp perspective upon an extraordinary place: 'These houses don't become someone's property by being lived in, but by means of a cheque, the owner doesn't so much live in them as have them at his disposal. The houses are extensions of garages.' The US attitude to money revealed for Brecht a mentality of 'colonial capitalism': 'You get the impression that everybody here is where he is just to get away. They are only in the USA to make money. It is nomadic theatre, by people on the move for people who are lost. Time is money, prefabricated types are assembled, rehearsals are a matter of patching things together. Nobody lives in the colonies.'

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lung Danut-Lucian

    „Desigur că ne-ar plăcea ca toţi bunii scriitori să fie şi fiinţe bune, altruiste, generoase, căci credem că literatura e altruistă şi generoasă. În realitate, nu-i aşa. Uneori, geniul ajunge la noi printr-o fiinţă demnă de dispreţ, chiar josnică, şi uneori oameni minunaţi, care merită să meargă în cer până la altare, sunt foarte proşti scriitori, care ne omoară de plictiseală, ale căror cărţi ne cad din mână. Ce păcat!” Mario Vargas Llosa

  4. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    This review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 3.75 of 5 It was a little daunting, looking at a 700+ page book, a biography of a German playwright, but the research and presentation of Bertolt Brecht's life is thorough and meticulous. This isn't your average, summer beach reading biography.  This is a comprehensive look at a political playwright of 'epic theatre,' and a Marxist.  One nice thing about a biography of a writer is that the writer often leaves a trail of thoughts, w This review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 3.75 of 5 It was a little daunting, looking at a 700+ page book, a biography of a German playwright, but the research and presentation of Bertolt Brecht's life is thorough and meticulous. This isn't your average, summer beach reading biography.  This is a comprehensive look at a political playwright of 'epic theatre,' and a Marxist.  One nice thing about a biography of a writer is that the writer often leaves a trail of thoughts, written and shared.  The work here is in gathering those thoughts by and about Bertolt Brecht.  The fact that Brecht was under surveillance by the FBI during his time in America in the late 1940's gives us additional glimpses of his actions and friends. While I commented on another biography recently that there was a lack of information about the subject, this particular volume goes a bit in the other direction.  There may actually be more here than I need to get a fairly comprehensive look at how this writer developed.  In particular, his early life gives me more detail than I felt necessary.  It is true, of course, that every moment in a person's life builds upon the previous moment and develops who the person becomes, but we don't necessarily need to relive every moment when looking back on someone's life. Because my familiarity with Brecht is through his works written for the stage, it wasn't until we started to look at his theatrical involvements that I was truly drawn in.  This is certainly not a fault of author Stephen Parker, but rather what it was I wanted to know about the man.  To give us less would certainly feel incomplete if the information is at hand. I learned a great deal about Brecht, and most definitely I will view his works in a new light, given what was presented here.  What did I learn?  ...Where do I start?  I learned that "Improbable as it now sounds, Brecht's rise to fame began as a patriotic war correspondent" according to Parker.  I learned that Brecht wrote a good deal of poetry -- my favorite of those included in this book is "The Mask of Evil": On my wall hangs a Japanese carving The mask of an evil demon, decorated with gold lacquer. Sympathetically I observe The swollen veins of the forehead, indicating What a strain it is to be evil. He also wrote nearly fifty film treatments while living in Hollywood; and considered himself to be an expert sexual operator (the latter a trait he may have picked up from his father). I learned...well, let's face it...I learned a great deal.  From his personal and professional partnerships, to his politics, to his theatrical works.  Parker is incredibly thorough here and I can't imagine a year gone by in Brecht's life that we don't learn about what Brecht was doing or fearing or struggling against.  And of course it all comes to play in his writing -- which is the whole point of reading a biography. The book is a little dry at times.  I did struggle, especially early, to get through this, but ultimately, I'm very glad this information is available and that I read it.  I'm actually quite interested in seeing some of Brecht's plays again, given my new knowledge, and while his works may not be produced a great deal in my area, I am also eager to re-read his plays. Looking for a good book?  The biography, Bertolt Brecht:A Literary Life by Stephen Parker, may truly only appeal to dedicated theatre aficionados and hard-core biography readers, but the research is exhaustive and the presentation thorough.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bill Wallace

    My first encounter with Brecht's work was in my first year in college. The Caucasian Chalk Circle woke me up from an otherwise unmemorable English class, electrifying me with its wit and apparent relevance to, well, pretty much everything -- human relations, social justice, the Cold War. In the next couple of years I read all the Brecht plays I could find and sampled his poetry. In time, I saw Pabst's adaptation of the Three Penny Opera and absolutely loved it (way more than Brecht apparently di My first encounter with Brecht's work was in my first year in college. The Caucasian Chalk Circle woke me up from an otherwise unmemorable English class, electrifying me with its wit and apparent relevance to, well, pretty much everything -- human relations, social justice, the Cold War. In the next couple of years I read all the Brecht plays I could find and sampled his poetry. In time, I saw Pabst's adaptation of the Three Penny Opera and absolutely loved it (way more than Brecht apparently did). Since then, my growing fascination with all things Weimar gave me more of an appreciation for the role this amazing writer played in four harrowing decades of the 20th Century, but I was frustrated by the relatively scant biographical resources available in English. That shortage has certainly been remedied by this enormous biography. Brecht comes across here as a man utterly determined to stand alone, despite a harem of lovers. His near-lifelong devotion to his own idiosyncratic version of Marxism left him reviled by the Nazis, the Capitalist West, and eventually the Communist East. His survival in Hitler's Europe, Stalin's Russia, and HUAC's America is nothing short of miraculous, and throughout his travels and travails, Brecht turned his circumstance into drama and poetry, an artistic chronicle of the direst corners of the mid 20th Century. This is not a hagiography -- Parker clearly shows Brecht as a man who treated most of those who loved him abominably, often burning bridges before he managed to cross them -- but an honest, if very, very long portrait of one of the most remarkable literary talents of his time. I could have done with less information about Brecht's early romances and fewer medical details about his terminal illness(es), but on the whole, the meticulous detailing makes riveting reading and casts a bright, if eccentric light, on the stages and streets of his world.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bagus

    A really enlightening literary biography of one of the most influential theatre practitioners and poets of the twentieth century. Stephen Parker has successfully outlined the short life of Bertolt Brecht in this biography from his birth in Augsburg in 1898 until his death in East Berlin in 1956. What makes this book different from other Brecht’s biographies would be the scale of Parker’s research about Brecht’s health condition which heavily affected his creative process from his formative years A really enlightening literary biography of one of the most influential theatre practitioners and poets of the twentieth century. Stephen Parker has successfully outlined the short life of Bertolt Brecht in this biography from his birth in Augsburg in 1898 until his death in East Berlin in 1956. What makes this book different from other Brecht’s biographies would be the scale of Parker’s research about Brecht’s health condition which heavily affected his creative process from his formative years during the 1910s until his death. While other biographies about Brecht put emphasis on influences of Marxism in his works as well as the importance of Epic Theatre, Parker tries to assert the view that Brecht’s health condition would be equally important to understand Brecht’s mindset. Born in Augsburg on 10 February 1898 as Eugen Berthold Friedrich Brecht, he will, in turn, change his pen-name several times from Eugen Brecht, Bert Brecht, before finally settled with Bertolt Brecht. Upon finishing a really good biography such as this, I don’t know which one should I praise more. Either it was Bertolt Brecht’s life which captivated me, or it was the way Stephen Parker as the biographer to successfully narrates the life and notable achievements of Brecht. Growing up in a middle-class household in Augsburg as the son of Berthold Brecht, he grew up as a kid susceptible to illnesses, with frequent complaints of heart palpitation. Just like her mom, Sophie Brecht, the little Eugen also experienced the condition which would force him to recuperate in the highland. During the span of his lifetime, he frequently fears the misdiagnoses of his condition by a bunch of doctors. This fear frequently haunted him, that he might be buried alive. Thus one of the instructions that he gave to his wife, Helene Weigel, was to ensure that he was, indeed, dead. Brecht’s life could be described very well as a life sandwiched between the two World Wars. He grew up becoming a teenager during the First World War, even volunteered in the last few weeks of the War as a medical team member, as he was pursuing his medical degree at University of Munich at that time. After that, he came on age during the Weimar Republic, through his collaborations with several prominent rising artists such as Kurt Weill and Hanns Eisler. But this success proved to be short-lived, as he was soon forced into exile with the rise of the Nazis in 1933 after which he lived in several cities before finally settling in Svendborg, Denmark. However, it was during the ‘dark times’, as Brecht liked to term his exile years, that he finally managed to score most of his important works such as Life of Galileo and Mother Courage and Her Children. 
 This biography also describes very well Brecht’s love-hate relationships with authorities, both during his exile years in California in which he was forced to submit to House Un-American Activities Committee during the rising McCarthyism, as well as after his return post-World War II in East Berlin with the SED, the socialist party which fulfilled the Marxist-Leninist duty in the DDR. As a Marxist, Brecht would be labelled a ‘heretic’ by the hard-liners inside the SED, which presented many obstacles for him in establishing his theatre company Berliner Ensemble during the early years of the DDR regime. However, inside this biography, we could see the struggles of Brecht in defending his idealistic view of Epic Theatre as a way to advance socialist ideas, to engage audiences with his V-Effekt to create alienation from the characters and bring the audience to see the world as it is. His view was attacked by the SED establishment with the campaign against Formalism and the state’s support of Socialist Realism, as previously instigated in the Soviet Union. What I particularly like about this biography is how it correlates with historical events spanning in the first half of the twentieth century. It was as though Brecht’s life could be defined through historical events that happened in his time. While Brecht lent his supports to socialist causes, the USSR, and the construction of a socialist state in East Germany, he still maintained his own freedom of thoughts, as we can see in his struggle expressed through his work Life of Galileo. Brecht was until the end, remained recalcitrant to the authorities, and in that way, we can see a figure who was filled with fiery idealism while still maintained a certain degree of independence from the Communist establishment and labelled ‘heretic’. I’ve run out of words to describe it, certainly one of the best biographies I’ve ever read. Thanks Methuen Drama for publishing this book :)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Greer

    Jesus Christ, this is among the most exhausting books I've ever read. It is extremely slow, academic, and thorough. It is not a narrative biography. It's more like a seven hundred page report of biographical evidence. That is good for some audiences, of course. I wouldn't read this unless you're in academia. It's very clear in style, which is good. Parker's ideas about the way Brecht's health problems influenced his life are interesting and very thoroughly documented, and made me see v-effekt in Jesus Christ, this is among the most exhausting books I've ever read. It is extremely slow, academic, and thorough. It is not a narrative biography. It's more like a seven hundred page report of biographical evidence. That is good for some audiences, of course. I wouldn't read this unless you're in academia. It's very clear in style, which is good. Parker's ideas about the way Brecht's health problems influenced his life are interesting and very thoroughly documented, and made me see v-effekt in a whole new way (BB's fear that audiences would get emotionally caught up in emotional theater and music in a way that would be dangerous for them was an actual physical experience of his! I think I never realized how fearful Brecht was, and how vulnerable).

  8. 4 out of 5

    Angel Serrano

    La biografía de Bertolucci Brecht es interesante. Contada por PARKER gana mucho porque consigue poner en perspectiva vital todas y cada una de sus obras, que así integradas, forman parte de su vida. Su salud, sus relaciones amorosas, su ideología política, su genialidad artística se combinan a la perfección.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mills College Library

    Biog B8289p 2014

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tiago Fontes

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rusty Wilson

  12. 4 out of 5

    Bobby

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rex Huffman

  14. 5 out of 5

    Simone

  15. 4 out of 5

    Donald Max Henzi

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tim Snoddon

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ela

  18. 5 out of 5

    Thorsteinn Thorsteinsson

  19. 4 out of 5

    Owen Cartwright

  20. 5 out of 5

    Richard

  21. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bruce

  23. 5 out of 5

    Vivien

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dalia

  25. 4 out of 5

    Karim Zahidi

  26. 5 out of 5

    Filip

  27. 4 out of 5

    I

  28. 4 out of 5

    Joel Cohen

  29. 5 out of 5

    Enter Sandman

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Hoffmeyer

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.