The Life of Galileo

Bertolt Brecht, John Willet, Desmond Vesey

This was my first play of Brecht's. I was initially against reading Brecht due to having prior knowledge of him as examples in my undergraduate seminars; too much foreknowledge to feel comfortable approaching him as-is. I was eventually turned around by a radio documentary of a modern Mother Courage production.

The Life of Galileo reads like a Socratic dialogue on the nature of science and how our understanding of the world is constructed. ... that said, the mise-en-scène is all over the place. With fourteen different scenes and quite a number of stage settings, the play jumps through many years of Galileo's life, with some characters appearing as children in early acts and grown men in the next. While it wouldn't be impossible to act on the stage, I'm inclined to wonder if it wasn't originally intended for early cinema, given the point in time at which it was written.

I also ponder if the core experience of the work hasn't aged well. Given how many advancements in space science were only made after Brecht's time, the results Galileo makes pains to prove seem all too obvious to the modern reader; whereas before they could've been treated with mild implausibility, the hypothesis of an obscure subject.

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