Eugen Berthold Friedrich Brecht (born February 10, 1898, Augsburg, German Empire – died August 14, 1956, East Berlin, East Germany), known as Bertolt Brecht, was a German theatre director, playwright, and poet considered one of the most influential playwrights of the 20th century.
Among others, his most important works include The Threepenny Opera (Die Dreigroschenoper, 1928), Mother Courage and Her Children (Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder, 1941), Life of Galileo (Leben des Galilei, 1943), The Good Person of Szechwan (Der gute Mensch von Sezuan, 1943), The Caucasian Chalk Circle (Der kaukasische Kreidekreis, 1948), Mr Puntila and his Man Matti (Herr Puntila und sein Knecht Matti, 1948), and The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (Der aufhaltsame Aufstieg des Arturo Ui, 1958).
Brecht’s style has inspired many directors over the years, and his influence is still present in many theatres.
The law was made for one thing alone, for the exploitation of those who don’t understand it.The Threepenny Opera (1928), Act III, Scene 7
If art reflects life, then it does so with special mirrors.A Short Organum for the Theatre (1949), Paragraph 73
Intelligence is not to make no mistakes, but quickly to see how to make them good.The Decision (The Measures Taken) (1930), Scene 3
The defeats and victories of the fellows at the top aren’t always defeats and victories for the fellows at the bottom. Mother Courage and Her Children (1939), Scene 3
Though the rich of this earth find no difficulty in creating misery, they can’t bear to see it.The Threepenny Opera (1928), Act III, Scene 7
Whenever there are great virtues, it’s a sure sign something’s wrong.Mother Courage and Her Children (1939), Scene 2
Someone who doesn’t know the truth is just thick-headed. But someone who does know it and calls it a lie is a crook.Life of Galileo (1939), Scene 9
One of the main reasons why the sciences are so poor is that they imagine they are so rich. It isn’t their job to throw open the door to infinite wisdom but to put a limit to infinite error.Life of Galileo (1939), Scene 9
When crimes begin to pile up they become invisible. When sufferings become unendurable the cries are no longer heard. The cries, too, fall like rain in summer.When Evil-Doing Comes Like Falling Rain, The First Years of Exile (1934-1936)
Everything changes. You can make a fresh start with your final breath.Everything Changes, American Poems (1941 - 1947)
Yes, insurance can help when praying has been no use. So you no longer need pray to God when it looks like thunder, but you do have to be insured.The Mother (1930), Scene 10
Society cannot speak with one voice so long as it is split into warring classes.A Short Organum for the Theatre (1949), Paragraph 55
The finest plans have always been spoiled by the littleness of them that should carry them out. Even emperors can’t do it all by themselves.Mother Courage and Her Children (1939), Scene 6
The human race tends to remember the abuses to which it has been subjected rather than the endearments. What’s left of kisses? Wounds, however, leave scars.Lucullus's Trophies (1939)
Since time immemorial, the theatre’s business has been to entertain people, just like all the other arts. This business always gives it its particular dignity; it needs no other passport than fun, though this it must have.A Short Organum for the Theatre (1949), Prologue
A man asked Mr. K. whether there is a God. Mr. K. said: “I advise you to consider whether, depending on the answer, your behavior would change. If it would not change, then we can drop the question. If it would change, then I can at least be of help to the extent that I can say, you have already decided: you need a God.”Stories of Mr. Keuner (1958)
When something seems ‘the most obvious thing in the world’ it means that any attempt to understand the world has been given up.Brecht on Theatre, Part II (1933-1947), Chapter 20. Theatre for Pleasure or Theatre for Instruction
Love is the desire to give, not to receive, something. Love is the art of producing something with the other’s talents. Stories of Mr. Keuner (1958), Love of Whom?
What they could use around 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. And when do you get organization? In a war. Peace is one big waste of equipment. Anything goes, no one gives a damn. See the way they eat? Cheese on rye, bacon on the cheese? Disgusting! How many horses they got in this town? How many young men? Nobody knows! They haven’t bothered to count ’em! That’s peace for you!! I been places where they haven’t had a war in seventy years and you know what? The people can’t remember their own names! They don’t know who they are! It takes a war to fix that. In a war everyone registers, everyone’s name’s on a list. Their shoes are stacked, their corn’s in the bag, you count it all up – cattle, men, et cetera – and you take it away! That’s the story: no organization, no war!Mother Courage and Her Children (1939), Scene 1)
We attacked a foreign people and then treated them like rebels. As you know, it’s all right to treat barbarians barbarically. It’s the desire to be barbaric that makes governments call their enemies barbarians.A Question of Taste, Stories Written in Exile (1933–1948)
What’s breaking into a bank compared with founding a bank?The Threepenny Opera (1928), Act III, Scene 9
It may be mistaken to mix different wines, but old and new wisdom mix very well.The Caucasian Chalk Circle (1944), Scene 1
The rain never falls upwards. When the wound stops hurting what hurts is the scar.Poems Belonging to a Reader for Those who Live in Cities, The Impact of the Cities (1925-1928)
When there are obstacles the shortest line between two points may be a crooked one.Life Of Galileo (1939), Scene 14
People remain what they are even if their faces fall apart.In the Jungle of Cities (1923), Scene 9
The man who laughs has simply not yet had the terrible news.To Those Born Later, Later Svendborg Poems and Satires (1936-1938)
I’ve no idea what a man is. All I have learnt is his price.The Decision (The Measures Taken) (1930), Scene 5
Man is too durable. That’s his main fault. He can do too much to himself. He’s too hard to destroy.In the Jungle of Cities (1923), Scene 9
General, your tank is a powerful vehicle. It smashes down forests and crushes a hundred men. But it has one defect: It needs a driver. General, your bomber is powerful. It flies faster than a storm and carries more than an elephant. But it has one defect: It needs a mechanic. General, man is very useful. He can fly and he can kill. But he has one defect: He can think.General, Your Tank Is a Powerful Vehicle, Later Svendborg Poems and Satires (1936-1938)