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.
In this chronicle of the Thirty Years War of the seventeenth century, Mother Courage follows the armies back and forth across Europe, selling provisions and liquor from her canteen wagon. As the action of the play progresses between the years 1624 and 1646 she loses her children to the war but remains indomitable, refusing to part with her livelihood - the wagon. The play is one of the most celebrated examples of Epic Theatre and of Brecht's use of alienation effect to focus attention on the issues of the play above the individual characters. It remains regarded as one of the greatest plays of the twentieth century and one of the great anti-war plays of all time. The Berlin production of 1949, with Helene Weigel as Mother Courage, marked the foundation of the Berliner Ensemble.
This volume contains expert notes on the author's life and work, historical and political background to the play, photographs from stage productions and a glossary of difficult words and phrases. The play is translated by Brecht scholar John Willett who did more than anyone else to make Brecht's work available in the English language.