The Collected Poems of Bertolt Brecht

Bertolt Brecht (Author), David Constantine (Translator), Tom Kuhn (Translator)

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A landmark literary event, The Collected Poems of Bertolt Brecht is the most extensive English translation of Brecht’s poetry to date.

Widely celebrated as the greatest German playwright of the twentieth century, Bertolt Brecht was also, as George Steiner observed, “that very rare phenomenon, a great poet, for whom poetry is an almost everyday visitation and drawing of breath.” Hugely prolific, Brecht also wrote more than two thousand poems—though fewer than half were published in his lifetime, and early translations were heavily censored. Now, award-winning translators David Constantine and Tom Kuhn have heroically translated more than 1,200 poems in the most comprehensive English collection of Brecht’s poetry to date. Written between 1913 and 1956, these poems celebrate Brecht’s unquenchable “love of life, the desire for better and more of it,” and reflect the technical virtuosity of an artist driven by bitter and violent politics, as well as by the untrammeled forces of love and erotic desire. A monumental achievement and a reclamation, The Collected Poems of Bertolt Brecht is a must-have for any lover of twentieth-century poetry.

Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • December 2018
  • ISBN 978-0-87140-767-2
  • 6.5 × 9.6 in / 1312 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Endorsements & Reviews

“This immense books of poems couldn't be less obscure or difficult—not that they lack subtleties, especially of voice.... The poetry of protest—against war, fascism, prostitution, poverty cruelty, and callousness—has no finer practitioner, whose work these formally faithful translations make almost as powerful in English as in German.” — Ray Olson, Booklist (starred review)

“This immense collection of Brecht’s poems amounts to a running record of his many lives as a theorist, dramatist, polemicist, and now poet… The assembled throng gives the reader immediate access to the interior of Brecht’s restless, oceanic mind.” — Billy Collins, former Poet Laureate of the United States

“Richly political, finally honed like a monster being restrained but gentle enough to tell the children a story.” — Eileen Myles, author of I Must Be Living Twice: New and Selected Poems 1975-2014 and Inferno (a poet's novel)

“A remarkable feat in getting the erotic and political fervor and humor of Bertolt Brecht into a strong answering voice.” — Harold Bloom, author of The Western Canon and The Anxiety of Influence

“A breath of fresh air… Within the bold statements, the direct speech and the willful naivety there's a lyrical dynamism and verbal agility that allows its author to dance and skip his way through the potential pitfalls of political rhetoric.” — Simon Armitage, author of The Story of the Iliad and Walking Home: A Poet's Journey

“His poetry served as the lyric laboratory of his personal, political, and philosophical ideas. Thanks to this astonishing compendium, English-speakers finally have access to this essential aspect of Brecht’s writing and thinking.” — Yuval Sharon, director of Doctor Atomic and MacArthur "Genius Grant" recipient

“Brecht was a great a poet as he was a playwright: pungent and moving, both sharply aphoristic and generously expansive, morally committed, with a deep, complicating sense of his own mixed motives, and with unexpected moments of emotional intensity.” — Edward Mendelson, author of Moral Agents: Eight Twentieth-Century American Writers

“We need Brecht more than ever, no less for his capacity to so movingly “take pleasure also / in the song of every blackbird after me” than for the power of his political poems and songs to take on demagogues and dickheads.” — Paul Muldoon, author of One Thousand Things Worth Knowing and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

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