Along with Mother Courage, the character of Galileo is one of Brecht's
greatest creations, immensely live, human and complex. Unable to resist
his appetite for scientific investigation, Galileo's heretical
discoveries about the solar system bring him to the attention of the
Inquisition. He is scared into publicly abjuring his theories but,
despite his self-contempt, goes on working in private, eventually
helping to smuggle his writings out of the country.
examination of the problems that face not only the scientist but also
the whole spirit of free inquiry when brought into conflict with the
requirements of government or official ideology, Life of Galileo has few equals. Written in exile in 1937-9 and first performed in Zurich in 1943, Galileo
was first staged in English in 1947 by Joseph Losey in a version
jointly prepared by Brecht and Charles Laughton, who played the title
role. Printed here is the complete translation by John Willett.