Tag Archives: Bertolt Brecht

Brecht on the Rejection of Refugees

 Thursday As some Americans harden their hearts against Central American immigrants, shrugging off the 2600+ children who have been separated from their parents, the six children who have died in (or immediately following) border patrol custody, and the cages in which people have been housed, we would do well to remember how in 1942 America […]

Posted in Brecht (Bertolt) | Also tagged | Leave a comment

The Danger of Normalizing Trump

Friday Recently the Washington Post reported that Trump just told his ten thousandth lie, a fact that barely raised eyebrows since we have become inured to his incessant falsehoods. Bertolt Brecht describes the normalization process in “When Evil-Doing Comes Like Falling Rain.” Imagine that you’re hearing the 10,000th lie for the first time–which is to […]

Posted in Brecht (Bertolt) | Also tagged , , | Leave a comment

A Poem for International Workers’ Day

Wednesday – May 1 Despite incessant GOP attacks on unions with their Orwellian-named “right to work laws,” increasing income inequality may push Democrats to aggressively push for more actual workers’ rights. I was struck that Joe Biden, in announcing his presidential bid, said he was “sick of this President badmouthing unions.” Later he tweeted, “Labor […]

Posted in Uncategorized | Also tagged , | Leave a comment

Brecht’s Warning for Democracies

Monday In an important debut article for the Atlantic, former New Yorker writer George Packer mentions a Bertolt Brecht poem to illustrate the threat that the GOP currently poses to democracy. The article contends that Donald Trump is the logical culmination of the Republicans’ 50-year descent into an authoritarian, white identitarian party. According to Packer, the descent […]

Posted in Brecht (Bertolt), Uncategorized | Also tagged , , | Leave a comment

On Mac the Knife & Presidential Pardons

Trump, like Mac the Knife, is an escape artist extraordinaire. Might a presidential pardon save him as a reprieve saves Mac?

Posted in Brecht (Bertolt), Gay (John) | Also tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Brecht on Speaking Truth to Power

Monday A Bertolt Brecht poem came to mind when Retired Navy Admiral William H. McRaven came to the defense of former CIA Director John Brennan, stripped of his security clearance by a Donald Trump angry at his criticisms. Vox has the story of what happened: The man who led the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in […]

Posted in Brecht (Bertolt), Orwell (George) | Also tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My “Last Lecture”

I share here my “last lecture” from my retirement ceremony. (But rest assured: I will not be retiring from this blog.)

Posted in Uncategorized | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Theories about Lit’s Impact

A transcript of a talk given at the University of Ljubljana on “how literature changes lives.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Brecht Quatrains for Challenging Times

During World War II Bertolt Brecht wrote quatrains that speak powerfully to our own political times.

Posted in Brecht (Bertolt) | Also tagged , , , , | Leave a comment


  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

    Please feel free to e-mail me [rrbates (at) smcm (dot) edu]. I would be honored to hear your thoughts and questions about literature.

  • Sign up for weekly newsletter

    Your email will not be shared or sold.
    * = required field

    powered by MailChimp!