Volker's Chronicle is not a finished book -- the completed biography will probably not be ready for several years -- only a...

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BRECHT CHRONICLE

Volker's Chronicle is not a finished book -- the completed biography will probably not be ready for several years -- only a series of discrete entries recording Brecht's works in progress, his movements from Augsburg to Berlin to Denmark, Sweden, England and America and his many, many literary associations. All this, punctuated by the opinions of Brecht and his friends on politics, theater, art and ideology. Volker remains an entirely anonymous sleuth, a behind-the-scenes director maneuvering into place the component parts of what promises to be a brilliant biography. Nevertheless, the Chronicle as it stands is a revelation. From these brief notes there emerges a restless, prodigious personality -- always working, always experimenting, always engage -- juggling a half dozen literary projects at once, exuberant, argumentative, tireless. A man who continually revised his own works and freely cannibalized the ideas of others, Brecht no sooner made a new friend than he recruited him for some theatrical venture. In a sense everyone with whom the dramatist came into contact became his collaborator; the intellectual and emotional sustenance he received from those around him was essential because collective endeavors were as natural and necessary to Brecht as breathing. In following his activities both in Weimar and in exile, Volker focuses on Brecht's constant quarrels with party hacks in Germany, Russia and America. Their narrow, oppressive notions of ""socialist realism"" were a continuing source of frustration to this most committed and revolutionary of playwrights. Despite the many disruptions of his life and work, the contradictions and compromises forced on him by the war and his refugee status, Brecht displays a lifelong fidelity to the ""productivity"" of the artist and the ""utility"" of art, to the need to formulate a new and revolutionary aesthetic, above all, to his own responsibilities to help shape new directions in the theater. A magnetic book and you can only hope that Volker doesn't make us wait too long for the final version.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1974

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Seabury

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1974