Primitive Modernity and the Urban Jungle in Brecht

Jennifer Anna Gosetti-Ferencei

in Exotic Spaces in German Modernism

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199604128
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191729362 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Modern Languages and Literature Monographs

Primitive Modernity and the Urban Jungle in Brecht

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In modernism, the city is exoticized as a primitive realm, a symbolic convergence of the spaces of external urban experience and the inner psyche. Exoticization in Brecht’s drama Im Dickicht der Städte occurs through depictions of fragmentation of perception, intense emotional and sexual struggle, and metaphoric comparison of the city to a jungle or a swamp. Fractured sensations, animalistic lust, fear, or aggression, and confusion between imagination and objective reality, threaten the ostensibly rational order of urban life, and may lead to the unveiling of a more essential substrate. Brecht’s drama sheds critical light on modernity and the urban form of modern life, in particular the fracturing of the individual and his social foundations in urban spaces, by associating the primitive with social antagonism and exploitation. As in Expressionist fiction and poetry and modernist aesthetics, the city and the human psyche symbolically converge.

Keywords: Bertolt Brecht; city; modernism; primitivism; expressionism; In the Jungle of Cities; aesthetics

Chapter.  9318 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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