Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Hitler, Arturo Ui, and . . .

In 1968, the Guthrie Theater performed a Brecht play that is as timely now as it was in 1941, when Brecht wrote it in exile in Finland after fleeing Germany. Its English title is "The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui." It is about the rise to power of a Chicago gangster, and it is a very thinly veiled satire on Hitler.

When the play is over, the actor playing Ui takes off his mustache and delivers this epilogue:

If we could learn to look, instead of gawking,
We'd see the horror in the heart of farce.
If only we could act, instead of talking!
We wouldn't always end up on our arse.
This was the thing that nearly had us mastered,
Don't yet rejoice in his defeat, you men!
Although the world stood up and stopped the bastard,
The bitch that bore him is in heat again.

The original German of the last line is:
Der SchoƟ ist fruchtbar noch, aus dem das kroch.
The womb is fertile still, from which he crawled.

(Hat tip to another blog for the picture, which I modified a bit.)

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