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Die Funktion der Bibel in Brechts Parabelstück Der gute Mensch von Sezuan und in zwei seiner Vorlagen

by Siljeholm, Olof, PhD

Abstract (Summary)
The Bible has had a considerable impact on Brecht’s literary production, which is already verified by scholars such as Reinhold Grimm and G. Ronald Murphy. However little attention has been paid to the influence of the Bible on his parable play “The Good Person of Szechwan” (1938-1941) or on Brecht’s earlier texts “Arrival of the Gods” (n. d.) and “Matinee in Dresden” (1926). Neither have the alienation effects (Verfremdungseffekte) been scrutinized. This dissertation closely examines connections between Brecht’s texts and the Bible. The results provide the basis for the investigation of the alienation effects. The biblical allusions may consist of words, phrases or situations, such as ”the crowing of the rooster.” Irony and blasphemy can be used to create alienation. Brecht uses the Bible to confront us with a poetic middle world, in which references to the Bible expose respect/disrespect for both believers and non-believers. The proximity of God characterizes the whole parable play. The gods can be looked upon as a poetic stand in for God in the Bible. They represent the Church in other words an institution that serves the traditional cultural and political structure and with it the status quo. The parable play also contains Marxian overtones. The author wants the audience to become socially active rather than socially contemplative. This transition is supposed to become materialized through alienation. Brecht creates a poetic “Zwischenraum” in order to expose a paradox: the current social conditions seem incompatible with the biblical command to be good. Kindness is shown to be ruinous to business success. The irony Brecht exposes about human society and business is that successful existence on God’s earth is incompatible with the human goodness that God in heaven commands us to have. Brecht would like us to realize that compassion and generosity are dangerous to business. Similarities and dissimilarities between Brecht’s gods and God in the Bible give sharpness to the main issue: the impossibility of letting empathy and love control life.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Göteborgs universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:HUMANITIES and RELIGION; Other humanities and religion; intertextuality; alienation effects (Verfremdung); biblical allusions; the gods of Szechwan and God in the Bible; Shen Teh’s double identity; capitalistic society; Brecht; Bertolt; Der gute Mensch von Sezuan

ISBN:

Date of Publication:01/01/2009

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