The Brechtian Authority
Bertolt Brecht, a key German dramatist, playwright, poet and director of the twentieth century developed what became known as epic, or nondramatic, theater. Brecht's overall idea was that drama should not model real life, or try to convince audiences that what they are watching is actually occurring, but instead should mimic the art of the epic playwright and simply present a story of past events. Brecht’s theory is fully explained in A Little Organum for the Theater (1948). A Marxist after the late 1920s, Brecht viewed mankind as victims of capitalist greed, but his skill as a playwright produced characters of unusual depth and dimension. Over the years, many reviews and critical publications have been produced on Brecht’s works, but one authority stands above all others: Eric Bentley.
Eric Bentley is a renowned critic, playwright, singer, editor and translator. He is considered one of the pre-eminent experts on Bertolt Brecht, whose work he has translated. Also, Bentley was chief editor in the Grove Press issuing of Brecht's work and has written many critical books on Brecht, such as The Brecht Memoir, Bentley on Brecht, Brecht Commentaries (1981) and The Brecht-Eisler Song Book (1967). Bentley introduced many European playwrights’ works to the United States and is well known for his original, literate reviews of theatre and critical works on drama. In one instance, when Bentley was theatre critic for The New Republic in the 1950s, Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller threatened to sue Bentley for his unfavorable reviews of their work, but abandoned the attempt.Bentley studied at the University of Oxford and later his Ph.D. from Yale University. His dissertation (1941) was expanded into the book A Century of Hero Worship (1944; reissued as The Cult of the Superman, 1969). Bentley then taught at Black Mountain College from 1942 to 1944 and the University of Minnesota from 1944 to 1948....
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