Il sole al tramonto

Brecht nelle tesi Sul concetto di storia di Benjamin


  • Iacopo Chiaravalli Univeristà di Pisa



Walter Benjamin, Bertolt Brecht, history, citation, repetition


The essay aims to show the importance of Brecht’s theory of epic theatre for Benjamin’s reshape of historical cognition in On the Concept of History. Brecht’s influence on Benjamin is usually restricted to works such as The Author as Producer or The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility. On the contrary, I argue that Benjamin makes use of typical Brechtian elements in strategic conceptual passages of his challenging new version of the historical knowledge. This situation can be evident, like in Thesis VII where Benjamin assimilates Brecht’s critics against the Einfühlung as core of the traditional theatre. Otherwise, we find Brechtian references in other central passages. The most important is Thesis III where Benjamin articulates Brecht’s concept of citation as a way to rethink the relation between the present and the past. The citation of gesture in Brecht’s theatre points out the possibility to free an element from its starting condition. In this sense, Brechtian citation could be taken as a model for a free relationship with the tradition. In Brecht’s strategy Benjamin discovers the elements for a new concept of history. The article ends pointing out the structural difference between Benjamin and Brecht on the notion of interruption as source of the dialectical understanding of historical reality.