translated by Gerhard Nellhaus
One of Brecht’s earliest works, Man Equals Man underwent many drafts before arriving at the version published here. Originally set in Bavaria, Brecht transposed the action to British India, drawing heavily from Kipling for influence and tone.
In The Theatre of Bertolt Brecht, Brecht’s long-time English editor John Willett describes the plot:
‘Four private soldiers loot an Indian temple, but one is left behind. Terrified of their fierce Sergeant, they get Galy Gay, an Irish docker, to pose as the fourth man. By threats and blackmail he is forced to take this new identity. At the same time the missing soldier is presented as a miracle-working statue in the temple and the Sergeant, finishing up in civilian clothes is seen as a harmless drunk. Galy Gay witnesses his own supposed execution and funeral, and delivers the funeral speech. In the last two scenes he takes part in a war against Tibet and single-handedly reduces a fortress: he has become the perfect solider. The missing man tries to rejoin his comrades but is turned away with Galy Gay’s old identity papers.’
This translation of Man Equals Man by Gerhard Nellhaus was first published in 1979.