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Bertolt Brecht

(10 February 1898 – 14 August 1956 / Augsburg)

Quotations

  • ''What they could do with round here is a good war. What else can you expect with peace running wild all over the place? You know what the trouble with peace is? No organization.''
    Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956), German dramatist, poet. The sergeant, in Mother Courage and Her Children, sc. 1 (1939), trans. by Eric Bentley (1941).
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  • ''Mixing one's wines may be a mistake, but old and new wisdom mix admirably.''
    Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956), German dramatist, poet. The Singer, in The Caucasian Chalk Circle, prologue (1944).
  • ''Food first, then morality.''
    Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956), German dramatist, poet. "What Keeps Mankind Alive?" Act 2, sc. 6, The Threepenny Opera.
  • ''Science knows only one commandment—contribute to science.''
    Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956), German dramatist, poet. Andrea, in The Life of Galileo, sc. 14 (1939), trans. by Howard Brenton (1980).
  • ''Society cannot share a common communication system so long as it is split into warring factions.''
    Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956), German dramatist, poet. repr. In Brecht on Theatre, ed. and trans. by John Willett (1964). "A Short Organum for the Theatre," par. 55 (1949).
  • ''A man who strains himself on the stage is bound, if he is any good, to strain all the people sitting in the stalls.''
    Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956), German dramatist, poet. repr. in Brecht on Theatre, pt. 1, ed. and trans. by John Willett (1964). "Emphasis on Sport," Berliner Börsen-Courier (February 6, 1926).
  • ''No one can be good for long if goodness is not in demand.''
    Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956), German dramatist, poet. First god, in The Good Woman of Setzuan, sc. 1a.
  • ''Unhappy the land that is in need of heroes.''
    Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956), German dramatist, poet. Galileo, in Life of Galileo, sc. 13. responding to Andrea's remark, "Unhappy the land that has no heroes."
  • ''People remain what they are even if their faces fall apart.''
    Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956), German dramatist, poet. Garga, in In the Jungle of Cities, sc. 9.
  • ''What's breaking into a bank compared with founding a bank?''
    Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956), German dramatist, poet. Mac, in The Threepenny Opera, act 3, sc. 9 (1928).

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Not What Was Meant

When the Academy of Arts demanded freedom
Of artistic expression from narrow-minded bureaucrats
There was a howl and a clamour in its immediate vicinity
But roaring above everything
Came a deafening thunder of applause
From beyond the Sector boundary.
Freedom! it roared. Freedom for the artists!
Freedom all round! Freedom for all!
Freedom for the exploiters! Freedom for the warmongers!

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