Stories of Mr. Brecht

Thursday, October 05, 2006 at 1:44 AM

As we mentioned in our last post, we're excited to be participating in this year's Frankfurt Book Fair. It might have been in subliminal honor of this event that I started thinking about one of my favorite writers, who just happens to be German as well: Bertolt Brecht.

Brecht is known primarily as a playwright, and with good reason; his works have remained in the public eye since their initial performances, going back to the 1930s. (A version of Mother Courage starring Meryl Streep just ended a successful New York City run last month.) But he's also produced some excellent prose. I'm thinking in particular of Stories of Mr. Keuner, a highly enjoyable book of compact stories that you can preview in Google Book Search. The stories are, in fact, small enough that I can cite one here, called "An aristocratic stance":

Mr. Keuner said: 'I, too, once adopted an aristocratic stance (you know: erect, upright, and proud, head thrown back). I was standing in rising water at the time. I adopted this posture when it rose to my chin.'

This little saying exemplifies many of the tendencies in Brecht's work: a critique of social classes brought out by humor, a heightened awareness of the body, and an image of life as a continuous application of some kind of common sense. You'll find almost all of these qualities -- humor, especially -- in these stories. Almost all of them fit on a single page, which makes this an ideal work to browse on Google Book Search. We hope you'll get in the spirit of Frankfurt and check this book out!

For further reading on Brecht, I suggest taking a look at his diaries, or this highly illuminating essay on Brecht's theater, which also makes mention of our dear Herr Keuner.


No comments: