Vol. 8 No. 2 1941 - page 122

lion is most naked, he seeks out its horizontal as well as verti–
cal frontiers. The traditional German wanderlust had become mor–
bid. Brecht had grown up in a post-war Germany whose younger
intellectuals were fascinated by low life, crime and perversity, and
about the movie America of gangsters and the Wild
West. There was a push downwards and outwards, away from the
street levels of the asphalt wilderness. Wearing a Kipling costume,
Brecht made overseas expeditions in verse to tropical hells, Mexico,
the Wild West, nameless deserts, uncharted oceans. But it was
Kipling in despair, a Kipling who had read Rimbaud, had nobody
waiting for him at home, and was bored and sick to death.
Brecht was the poet-laureate of the Germany which had been
dislocated by the Inflation, and which found in him a talent and a
temperament to express its mood. He scandalized it and he fitted
it. It was when all Germany had a consciousness of itself as a
pariah among the nations; Brecht universalized and sublimated
this consciousness by identifying it with all mankind. He was hav–
ing plays produced, some of them with success; he had several
notable theatre scandals to his credit; he was a very young man
with a bright future, not half so isolated from society as he might
have been; a good part of his audience agreed with what he said,
as shocked as it was, and he did not need to be obscure in his
was this community of mood that gave his verse its
carrying power, circulated it in alert society, and deprived his
nihilism of pose and idiosyncracy. The devaluation of money justi·
fied the devaluation of every other value. Mankind was exiled
from its possessions, tangible and intangible, and every individual
was an alien. In spite of his pessimism, it would be wrong to con–
sider Brecht as a case of the
However, there is a side of Brecht which cannot be explained
by post-war Germany, but is the result of his Lutheran upbringing
and is part of the particular personality which he cannot help
being. His attitudes have always had a religious color; and under·
neath his nihilism as well as his communism there lurks a relig–
ious moralist. Brecht's habitual bad temper and sour disposition
are not solely the result of dissatisfied egotism; they also belong to
one who finds nothing but horror and loathing for the acts of his
time, and little or insufficient satisfaction in the constant, sensual
pleasures. It is not merely to be sacrilegious or to take advantage
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