translated by Ralph Manheim
The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui is a savage satire in blank verse on the rise of Hitler, wittily transposed into a small-time gangster’s takeover of Chicago’s greengrocery trade. The seam of black comedy which runs through this political parable does not lessen the sharpness of its accusation; the unpleasantness of the pseudo-dictator Ui, one of Brecht’s most intense creations, is hardly a revelation, but Brecht points to the resistibility of his rise, and on the society that permitted it.
The names he gives to Ui’s henchmen mirror those of their Nazi counterparts, and the ominous pattern of events by which Ui takes control of the Cauliflower Trust is mapped by explanatory notices onto the real historical events in Germany, ensuring the play never strays far from its terrible inspiration. The play was not staged in Brecht’s lifetime, and although he intended it for an American audience, the first production was at Stuttgart in 1958.
Using a wide range of parody and pastiche – from Al Capone to Shakespeare’s Richard III and Goethe’s Faust – Brecht creates a hilariously comic and darkly condemnatory allegory which warns of the persistence of fascism. This version is translated by Ralph Manheim.