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Baal


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Bertolt Brecht (1898—1956) German dramatist, producer, and poet

Christian Dietrich Grabbe (1801—1836)

Hanns Johst (1890—1978)

 

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A: Bertolt Brecht Pf: 1923, Vienna Pb: 1922; rev. 1955 Tr: 1964 G: Drama in 22 scenes; German prose and songs S: Central Europe, 1920s C: 18m, 12f, extrasBaal is a dissolute wandering poet who plays his guitar and sings in bars and cheap clubs. His coarse ugly exterior and ambivalent sexuality do not prevent him from seducing a number of women, including the 17-year-old girlfriend of an admirer, the wife of his patron, and a girl he encounters in the street, who falls in love with him and is abandoned when she becomes pregnant. She commits suicide, but this hardly affects Baal, who continues to drink, sing his songs, and extol nature. His travelling companion Ekart, with whom Baal is in love, is appalled by Baal's ruthless behaviour. When Ekart flirts with a waitress, Baal becomes so jealous that he kills him. Fleeing from arrest, he finds himself alone in a hut in a rain-soaked forest. Appealing for help to some woodcutters, it is Baal's turn to be rejected. He will die alone.

A: Bertolt Brecht Pf: 1923, Vienna Pb: 1922; rev. 1955 Tr: 1964 G: Drama in 22 scenes; German prose and songs S: Central Europe, 1920s C: 18m, 12f, extras

This was Brecht's first play, written in 1918 as a conscious riposte to the idealization of the ‘poet’ in Expressionism (compare Sorge's The Beggar). Baal was the Canaanite priapic god of fertility, condemned by Old Testament prophets, a suitable name for the gross and ugly sensualist whose charm and rebellious energy nevertheless exercise a dreadful fascination. Despite Baal's total lack of social concern, even the Marxist Brecht could not bring himself to repudiate him entirely.

Subjects: Literature.


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