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Wizisla, Erdmut, ed.: Begegnungen mit Brecht.

Wizisla, Erdmut, ed. Begegnungen mit Brecht. Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2014.399 pp. 12.00 [euro] (paperback).

Suhrkamp have produced a convenient paperback edition of this volume first brought out by the Lehmstedt Verlag in Leipzig in 2009. It assembles the Brecht reminiscences of 59 of his contemporaries. As Erdmut Wizisla, the long-standing custodian of the Brecht and Benjamin archives at the Akademie der Kunste in Berlin, notes in his short introduction, the texts vary considerably in nature, register, and genre. Similarly, some of the authors were very close to Brecht, others rather less so. In some cases, incidental occurrences have doubtless been blown out of all proportion and many of the documents contain post-facto inventions. The creation of myth is integral to the image of Brecht" (10). Wizisla has prefaced each of the documents with a short sketch of the author's involvement with Brecht. Alongside texts by obvious Greats like Walter Benjamin, Hanns Eisler, Lion Feuchtwanger, Max Frisch, George Grosz, Lotte Lenya, and Carl Zuckmayer, or collaborators like Ruth Berlau, Elisabeth Hauptmann, and Kathe Rulicke, there are also some perhaps less obvious testimonies, say, by Sidney Hook, Christopher Isherwood, or Shelley Winters. Obviously, much of what is recorded here will be of little novelty to readers already familiar with Brecht (the man as well as the playwright) but it seems unlikely that there should not be something new, intriguing, or affecting for everybody in this volume. Have you met Brecht, the foodie, for instance, "who could hold, with great pleasure, a seminar on the most diverse range of French cheeses for the sake of which he had particularly enjoyed travelling to Paris" (Oda Schaefer, 215)?

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Publication:The German Quarterly
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jun 22, 2014
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