Downfall of The Egotist Johann Fatzer - Context and Interpretation

Context and Interpretation

The Fatzer text, in particular the Fatzer Commentary was considered by Reiner Steinweg as contributions to Brecht’s conception of the Lehrstücke as a form of pedagogical theatre intended for practicing participants rather than being staged by actors for an audience. Reiner Steinweg was responsible for re-discovering and piecing together Brecht’s Lehrstück theory, which he managed, in the 1970s, to get recognized as Brecht’s most radical and advanced aesthetical work, abandoned less due to formal maturation Brecht’s but as response to external political circumstances: the fight against Fascism, exile, then Brecht’s support in establishing the newly formed GDR.

Heiner Müller, who played a central role in recognizing the Fatzer text as a major drama of the 20th century, interpreted this latest effort as a deliberate lowering of standards in an attempt to „clear out the bodies form the cellars, while the houses are built on the same foundations“, identified as a crucial dilemma of GDR cultural politics. He holds against this the aesthetical quality and experimental possibilities of the Fatzer text, which, in its unresolvedness is closer to Kafka’s way of writing under the “pressure of experience”.

The loose nature of the 500 pages of the Fatzer Fragment stand in stark contrast to the very concise form of the completed Lehrstücke. The central theme of the confrontation of the individualistic urges of a strong (male) individual (Fatzer) versus the solidarity to a group is described by Müller as Brecht’s immense effort to consolidate the stance of his early plays with the new Marxist approach to the Lehrstücke, as “attrition warfare Brecht against Brecht (=Nietzsche against Marx, Marx against Nietzsche)“.

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