On the Burning of Books Bertolt Brecht 1898
On the Burning of Books Bertolt Brecht [1898 -1956] was a major and highly influential German poet, playwright, theater director and songwriter. Brecht fled Germany in 1933, when Hitler assumed power. A number of Brecht's poems were written from the perspective of a man who sees his country becoming increasingly fascist, xenophobic and militaristic. For instance this one about Nazi book burnings orchestrated by propaganda-meister Joseph Goebbels. The Nazis burned the books of writers they considered to be "decadent, " including those of Thomas Mann, Ernest Hemingway and even Helen Keller. Also among the books burned were those of the great German-Jewish poet Heinrich Heine, who in his 1820 -1821 play Almansor accurately predicted, “Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen. " ("Where they burn books, they will also ultimately burn people. ")
On the Burning of Books What words stood out as significant? DENOTATION (dictionary meaning – which ones did you look up? ) CONOTATION (“emotionally charged” meaning)
On the Burning of Books What did you think the TONE of the poem was (speaker’s ATTITUDE toward the subject)? What word(s) in the poem gave you this impression? What specific word(s) would you use to describe the tone?
On the Burning of Books What do you think the “message” or central idea of the poem is? Explain why you think so by using specific phrases or lines from the poem to support your answer.
On the Burning of Books • • What literary elements or devices did you identify? Metaphor Symbol Alternate Persona (imagined character of the speaker) Metonymy (a figure of speech in which a thing or concept is called not by its own name but rather by the name of something associated in meaning with that thing or concept. )