An Introduction to the Works of Peter Weiss

An Introduction to the Works of Peter Weiss

Olaf Berwald

A comprehensive introduction to the works and vision of the German writer, director, and political activist.
The plays and prose works of the German writer, director, and political activist Peter Weiss (1916-1982) were immensely influential in the shaping of European Modernism in the second half of the twentieth century. Combining exploratory aesthetic openness with an uncompromising ethical drive, Weiss's literary works, especially the plays Marat/Sade (1964), The Investigation (1968), and Hölderlin (1971), as well as the novel The Aesthetics of Resistance (1975-81) continue to provide vital points of reference for any discussion of culture and politics in our times. Berwald's study serves as a comprehensive introduction to Weiss's work and vision. The introductory chapter outlines Weiss's life and work in exile. Three chapters provide detailed discussions of Weiss's theater work, from his early grotesque plays and the documentary dramas from the 1960s that address Auschwitz, Angola, and Vietnam, to his most complex plays in which intellectuals are staged as outsiders. The subsequent four chapters discuss Weiss's prose works, which include his autobiographical novels from the early 1960s, essays and notebooks on art and politics, and his summum opus, The Aesthetics of Resistance.

Olaf Berwald is Professor of German and Chair of the Department of Foreign Languages at Kennesaw State University.

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Table of Contents

Subversive Slapstick: The Early Plays Der Turm, Die Versicherung, Nacht Mit Gästen, and MockinpottMockinpott
The Choreography of Documents: Die Ermittlung, Gesang vom Lusitanischen Popanz, and Viet Nam Diskurs
Staging Writers as Outcasts: Marat/Sade, Trotzki im Exil, Hölderlin, Der Prozess, and Der neue Prozess
Scenarios of Stagnation: Early Prose
Autobiography and Fiction: Abschied von den Eltern, Fluchtpunkt, and Rekonvaleszenz
Poetics and Politics: Essays, Open Letters, and Fragments
Perception as Resistance: Die Ästhetik des Widerstands
Works Consulted


In this tight and well-organized volume Berwald ... offers succinct and intelligent interpretations and comments on Weiss's oeuvre.... Essential. CHOICE

Well-organized, written in a clear, accessible style, and thoroughly researched, including documentation from the Peter Weiss archive in Berlin, Berwald's study provides a lucid introduction to the art of Peter Weiss. GERMAN STUDIES REVIEW

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