ON BRECHT’S “THE MANIFESTO”: COMMENTS FOR READERS IN ENGLISH (2015, 9,100 words)

Part 1 is the translation by D. Suvin of a putative poem by Brecht Das Manifest (The Manifesto) pieced together from his various versions from 1944 on. 

Part 2 is a comment article that discusses Brecht’s intention in 1944-45 to versify The Communist Manifesto in Lucretian hexameters in order to to renew its propagandistic efficacy, i.e. with the ambition to be to Marx what Lucretius was to Epicure. This assumed, that the How and the What cannot in a work of poetry (Marx’s prose or Brecht’s verse) be truly separated. The relationship of poetry to doctrine or didacticism is probed on this example, the horizon of which is that of verse narration as cognition. Further, the relation of poetry to history is adumbrated: both to the history of poetry and to the insights gained on the Left since 1848. Primarily, the updating factors in a theory of economic crises and some lessons of Leninism, with the overriding importance of destructive global wars added as Brecht’s own innovation.  Brecht’s unfinished but substantive and powerful poem remains a cognitive reshaping by “a poet in the style of Marx”.

Keywords: Marx, communism, Brecht, poetry, didactic poetry, poetry and history, war

First published as “Bertolt Brecht: The Manifesto” [transl.] and “On Brecht’s The Manifesto: Comments for Readers in English.” Socialism and Democracy 16.1 (2002): 1-31, http://sdonline.org/31/the-manifesto/ and http://sdonline.org/31/on-brechts-the-manifesto-comments-for-readers-in-english1/ (2nd item in different German version as “Brechts Gedichtfassung des Kommunistischen Manifests,” transl. S. Regler, Das Argument no. 282 (2009): 607-15, http://www.linksnet.de/files/pdf/DA282_suvin.pdf) 

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