Ekkehard Schall on Bertolt Brecht’s love for Mao Zedong

In Brecht’s 1954 poem ‘First Half’ is the line:

I read Voltaire’s letters and Mao’s essay on contradiction.

In a letter to uan Miau-Tse from 31 August 1955 he wrote: ‘In the theatre, we’ve benefited a lot from Mao Tse-Tung’s essay “On Contradiction”.’

In his answer to a survey by Neue Deutsche Literatur in 1954, he named Mao’s essay as the best book of the year. After Brecht’s death, when open animosity between China and the Soviet Union had broken out, an agent from the cultural ministry forbade me from including one of Brecht’s poems, in which he mentions reading Mao’s work, in my performance for a party assembly. I protested and ignored the ban in other performances. The People’s Republic of China had been declared a populus non gratus and Mao a persona non grata. That was how Brecht indoctrinated and taught us, and we had fun all the while.

Ekkehard Schall,
The Craft of Theatre: Seminars and Discussions in Brechtian Theatre

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