Writing the Truth: Five Difficulties


Nowadays, anyone who wishes to combat lies and ignorance and to write the truth must overcome at least five difficulties. He must have the courage to write the truth when truth is everywhere opposed; the keenness to recognize it, although it is everywhere concealed; the skill to manipulate it as a weapon; the judgment to select those in whose hands it will be effective; and the cunning to spread the truth among such persons. These are formidable problems for writers living under Fascism, but they exist also for those writers who have fled or been exiled; they exist even for writers working in countries where civil liberty prevails.

SOURCE: Brecht, Bertolt. Galileo, edited and with an introduction by Eric Bentley, English version by Charles Laughton (New York, NY: Grove Press, 1966); essay translated by Richard Winston, Appendix A, pp. 133-150. This quote and bibliographic information are from p. 133.

Publication history: "Writing the Truth: Five Difficulties", translated by Richard Winston, originally published in the United States in Twice A Year (New York), Tenth Anniversary Issue, 1948. The first version of Brecht's essay was first published in the Pariser Tageblatt, December 12, 1934, under the title "Dichter sollen die Wahrheit schreiben" ("Poets Are to Tell the Truth"). The final version of Brecht's essay was published in Unsere Zeit (Paris), VIII, Nos. 2/3, April 1935, pp. 23-24. Galileo was previously published by Arvid Englind, 1940; Bertolt Brecht, 1952 (Indiana University Press).

For the complete text, see: Writing the Truth: Five Difficulties.

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