Bert Brecht

Bert Brecht

Bert Brecht

Bert Brecht

Excerpt

To understand Bertolt Brecht's personality it is perhaps best to talk first about his disguises. In the 1920's, the time of Brecht great successes -- Die Dreigroschenoper ( The Threepenny Opera) and Hauspostille ( Manual of Piety) -- it was easy to spot him in Berlin if one wanted to. He was always fully masqueraded: his costume consisted of an old, dark, close-fitting, well-worn jacket of soft leather like a motorcyclist's or a truck driver's, yet underneath he wore an expensive silk shirt which only men of substantial income could afford. Never missing was the cap favored by the proletarian of 1920 or the football coach of today. His head was usually shaved like a convict's or a basic trainee's. But most curious was a pair of steel-rimmed glasses which could hardly be bought in Berlin any more at that time -- the kind a schoolteacher from some provincial town might have worn. When Brecht wished to read, he would carefully take these glasses from their case, clean them, slip them over his ears, and, after the reading, just as carefully replace them in his breast pocket.

It was a costume-but for more than one role. There was a touch of the supersecret commissar from a mysterious Moscow bureau in it, whom popular fancy at that time envisaged in leather jackets; but also a bit of the schoolmaster apt to dictate stylized banalities in a slow, hard voice; and certainly also a touch of the gangster-and-prostitute atmosphere of The Threepenny Opera, Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny ( Rise and Fallof the City Mahagonny . . .

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