Vol. 8 No. 2 1941 - page 124

drama of a high order which would still be palatable to the masses.
He devised a theory of a new anti-Aristotelean form of drama
which he called the "epic" drama. Instead of involving the spec·
tator emotionally, it would sober and cool him into an objectivity
which would enable him to consider the dramatic action, not as one
who identifies himself with the roles enacted on the stage, but from
the point of view of his own practical, every-day interests as a
member of society. The "epic" drama would teach above all. This ,
theory is enunciated with such meticulous dogmatism that there
hovers over it an air of that straight-faced clowning we are always
forced to suspect in Brecht. It is as if he were parodying Aristotle
and Marx at the same time. The then current Stalinist line on pro–
letarian literature--very much an unknown quantity and the object
of a haphazard search-gave free play to Brecht's theories, while
both his originality and his dogmatism were encouraged by the
exaggerated aggressiveness at that time of the Third International's
political line. As he quoted the right authorities and repeated the
correct shibboleths, he received more or less official support from
the German Communist Party.
Brecht's first stage as a poet culminates in the magnificent
libretto of the
which was still written in what I
choose to call his
manner, and still somewhat "Aris–
totelean," although Brecht had already made his tum to Com·
munism. After this his style underwent a radical change. In the
choruses and recitatives interspersed through the "epic"
or "didactic pieces," he began to use an unrhymed free
verse designed to accord better with the rhythms of contemporary
speech and to cut away those non-essential embellishments of
poetry which might dissimulate the austerity of the Bolshevik
method. In the directions accompanying the printed texts of the
didactic pieces Brecht emphasized the necessity of a "dry" deliv·
ery. Poetry was to become stripped, bare, prosaic.
was to
settled with large colonies of prose. (I do not want to exaggerate
Auden's debt to Brecht, but again it seems to me that he got hints
here as to how to assimilate prose phrasing to poetry.) Rhythm was
no longer to be metric or musical, but forensic, persuasive and
rhetorical. A fair specimen of Brecht's new style is the
Lob der
or Praise·of the Party, from the play
Die Massnahme:
80...,114,115,116,117,118,119,120,121,122,123 125,126,127,128,129,130,131,132,133,134,...160
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