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Galileo; a play by Bertolt Brecht by Bertolt…

Galileo; a play by Bertolt Brecht (edition 1966)

by Bertolt Brecht, Charles Laughton (Translator), Eric Bentley (Editor)

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Title:Galileo; a play by Bertolt Brecht
Authors:Bertolt Brecht
Other authors:Charles Laughton (Translator), Eric Bentley (Editor)
Info:New York. Grove Press
Collections:Your library
Tags:drama, [review to follow]

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Life of Galileo by Bertolt Brecht


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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
This play breaks most of the rules of American theatre (but, it's Brecht, so I state that which is redundant). It demonstrates what can be great about German theatre. It is talky, with long expositional speeches. It does not establish the high stakes conflict immediately or quickly. It is very erudite. It is well worth reading, as a dramatization of the life and heretical science of Galileo Galilei. It doesn't attempt to whitewash Galileo, make him a gold-plated hero with no flaws; instead, it tries to put his flaws in the context of a time and a place peopled by real human beings, not cardboard cut outs. And, unlike so many plays about science, the playwright does the hard work to get the science right. Well worth the time to read and think about. ( )
2 vote quantum_flapdoodle | Mar 25, 2013 |
A masterpiece on intellectual curiosity, scientific method, and religion and politics. Not only thematically deep and educational, but at times hilarious and tragic. ( )
  collingsruth | Apr 4, 2012 |
The Foreword to one edition I read of this play (admiringly) calls Brecht's nature "cold, clinical" and tells us he consciously rejected what he called "Aristelian" drama that seeks its audience to feel empathy for the characters. Instead Brecht embraced alienation. He was also famously a Marxist and consciously sought to imbue his works with that philosophy. All things I'd ordinarily find off-putting. But then the Foreword goes on to call Galileo not just Brecht's "greatest" play but also "his most atypical and humanistic work."

Which may explain why overall I liked it. Not that Brecht's Galileo isn't in his way alienating. He's more anti-hero than hero, complex and definitely designed to make you feel ambivalent about his actions. This play is about a lot more than scientific truth versus religious dogma. That's embodied in two of my favorite lines from the play. The first, said by Galileo: As much of the truth gets through as we push through; we crawl by inches. And the play overall seems to condemn Galileo for not pushing enough. And then there's these trenchant lines, that condemn not so much an individual as society:

Andrea: Unhappy is the land that breeds no hero.

Galileo: No, Andrea. Unhappy is the land that needs a hero.
( )
2 vote LisaMaria_C | Mar 11, 2012 |
I have the Howard Brenton edition of this play, as performed at the National Theatre in London in 1980. Superbly spare, sinewy language with a constant flow of ideas. A wonderful dramatisation of the struggle between superstition and scientific truth. ( )
1 vote ponsonby | Jul 7, 2010 |
It is at least unusual for dramatists to put scientists and the social implications of research in center stage. Bertolt Brecht -an unusual dramatist if there’s any- did just that, economically and elegantly, in his play Galileo. The scope of the play is incredibly broad: Plagiarism, elitism, relations with businessmen, with the Church, and with sponsors, the social responsibility of scientists, and the impact of their work on the general population; all of this concentrated in a few short scenes, sometimes in a couple of loaded phrases. Brecht, as in the rest of his plays, does not give us any answers, but he asks questions better than most.

The overarching theme, of course, is the fight to disseminate the truth when it hurts the interests of the powerful. Considering how religious dogmatism and political interests escalate their efforts to muddle scientific truth in our times, it’s still a very relevant read. ( )
  jorgearanda | Jun 11, 2008 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Brecht, Bertoltprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bentley, EricEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Laughton, CharlesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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In dem Jahr sechzehnhundertneun schien das Licht des Wissens hell zu Padua aus einem kleinen Haus.
Wer die Wahrheit nicht weiß, der ist bloß ein Dummkopf. Aber wer sie weiß und sie eine Lüge nennt, der ist ein Verbrecher! (Galileo)
Das Denken gehört zu den größten Vergnügungen der menschlichen Rasse. (Galileo)
Ich verstehe: freier Handel, freie Forschung. Freier Handel mit der Forschung, wie? (Galileo)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802130593, Paperback)

Considered by many to be one of Brecht's masterpieces, Galileo explores the question of a scientist's social and ethical responsibility, as the brilliant Galileo must choose between his life and his life's work when confronted with the demands of the Inquisition. Through the dramatic characterization of the famous physicist, Brecht examines the issues of scientific morality and the difficult relationship between the intellectual and authority. This version of the play is the famous one that was brought to completion by Brecht himself, working with Charles Laughton, who played Galileo in the first two American productions (Hollywood and New York, 1947). Since then the play has become a classic in the world repertoire. "The play which most strongly stamped on my mind a sense of Brecht's great stature as an artist of the modern theatre was Galileo." - Harold Clurman; "Thoughtful and profoundly sensitive." - Newsweek.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:52 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Unrelenting in his search for "simple truth" Galileo Galilei shatters beliefs held sacred for two thousand years. But, under threat of torture by the Holy Inquisition, his scientific and personal integrity are put to the test as he argues for his very life in a passionate debate over science, politics, religion and ethics that resonates to this day. Includes an interview with Dr. E.C. Krupp, Director of the Griffith Observatory. An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Neil Dickson, Roy Dotrice, Jeannie Elias, Jill Gascoine, Stacy Keach, Peter Lavin, Robert Machray, Christopher Neame, Moira Quirk, Darren Richardson, Alan Shearman, Simon Templeman, Joanne Whalley and Matthew Wolf.… (more)

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