‘Die Hauptsache ist, plump denken lernen’: Brecht’s Herrnburger Bericht as a GDR Learning Play

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Abstract

This essay looks at the Herrnburger Bericht (1951) by Bertolt Brecht and Paul Dessau in terms of its simplicity. Following a discussion of difficulty as modernism’s default position, Brecht and Dessau’s semi-staged cantata is examined as an example of what Walter Benjamin reviewing Brecht’s Dreigroschenroman, affirmatively termed ‘plumpes Denken’. The blatancy of the Herrnburger Bericht is examined as a dialectical response to the ‘Formalismusdebatte’ around Brecht and Dessau’s opera Die Verurteilung des Lukullus of the previous year, as a work for young performers and spectators, and as a distant relative of Brecht’s ‘Lehrstücke’ of the late 1920s (in particular Der Flug der Lindberghs and Das Badener Lehrstück vom Einverständnis). Whilst acknowledging that the Herrnburger Bericht did not achieve the status its author and composer had hoped for, the afterlife of one of its numbers – ‘Bitten der Kinder’ – is noted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)356–366
Number of pages11
JournalGerman Life and Letters
Volume70
Issue number3
Early online date22 Jun 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017

Keywords

  • Bertolt Brecht
  • Herrnburger Bericht
  • Paul Dessau
  • Walter Benjamin

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