The influence of Karl Valentin on the dramatic theories and works of Bertolt Brecht

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1977

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As a young student in Munich, Bertolt Brecht associated with Karl Valentin and greatly admired the performances and dialogs of this Munich folk comedian. This thesis is an attempt to show the influence exerted upon Brecht in his early years as a playwright by Valentin, whose popularity was rising during the 1920's. Many of the dramatic theories gained from Valentin can be found throughout Brecht's dramas and theories of drama. The first chapter introduces the folk comedian, Karl Valentin, and discusses Brecht's association with him. The second chapter describes the one-act plays which Brecht wrote in 1919 while working with Valentin and relates some of the techniques of writing or presentation which were borrowed from Valentin. In the third chapter quotations from Brecht are used to show his own acknowledgement of Valentin's influence upon him. The fourth chapter discusses the midnight theater in which both Brecht and Valentin worked. The last section will deal with the specific theories of drama which show Valentin's influence and particular sections of Brecht's plays which have their foundations in Valentin's monologs or skits. Although on several occasions from 1922 until 1955 Brecht mentioned his indebtedness to Karl Valentin, there was no comprehensive study of this influence and how far- reaching it was with relation to the entire span of Brecht1s writing career and his development of dramatic theories. Most secondary sources on Brecht which mention Valentin contain merely a few sentences to relate their association. Yet, because Brecht himself mentioned Karl Valentin's influence on his own artistic development and even stated in Der Messingkauf that he was influenced more by Valentin than by anyone else, it is necessary to discover more about this influence if a comprehensive understanding of Brecht is desired.

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