(New York): New Directions, (1943). Octavo, original terra cotta pictorial paper boards, original unclipped terra cotta pictorial dust jacket. Pictorial title page, one page of publisher's advertisements at rear. Tiny chips to head of jacket spine and corners, short closed tear and single pinhole to rear panel of jacket.
First published edition, in English translation, of Bertolt Brecht’s stark anti-war radio play, originally broadcast on Swiss radio in the wake of the Nazi invasion of Poland. The Roman general Lucullus, famed for his conquest of Asia, faces a trial after death. To confirm his greatness, Lucullus names Alexander of Macedon as his sponsor, but finds that “your expert is unknown / In the Elysian Fields.” He then calls as witnesses the prisoners of war depicted in the frieze of his triumphal march back to Rome, who testify to the suffering of the conquered, rather than the glory of Lucullus: “Out of life into death, / Without protest, we haul the burden. / Long ago our times ceased to be our own / And the goal of our journey unknown.” The Trial of Lucullus was issued as part of New Directions' “Poets of the Year” series, published from 1941 to 1945. A near-fine copy of a compelling document of World War II, one of the last works completed by Brecht before he escaped to the United States.