That Brecht was a nasty piece of work, and he didn’t even write his own plays

Michael Hofmann

  • The Life and Lies of Bertolt Brecht by John Fuegi
    HarperCollins, 732 pp, £25.00, July 1994, ISBN 0 00 255386 4

I have never read a life like John Fuegi’s of Brecht. Revisionism doesn’t begin to describe it. This is dartboard stuff, effigy abuse, voodoo biography. If Fuegi could get inside the Dorotheenfriedhof, uproot Brecht’s jagged scalene headstone, dig through six feet of Brandenburg sand and a zinc coffin, and do something to the remains involving chicken heads, inverted crosses and black candles, I don’t doubt that he would. In an epigraph over his preface – the first words in the book, effectively – he quotes an oblique little exchange from Waiting for Godot:

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