Peter Weiss And The Political Novel

Ryan Ruby at The Point:

It seemed like a good idea to avoid the screen, but my resolve didn’t last long. The book I was reading at the time, On the Natural History of Destruction, a collection of W. G. Sebald’s lectures and essays about the literature of the Second World War, concludes with a piece on the German-Swedish writer Peter Weiss. Like most English-speakers who had heard of him, I knew of Weiss only as the author of the play The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade (Marat/Sade for short), which had been made into a film starring Patrick Magee and Glenda Jackson during the brief vogue for interwar European aesthetic programs—in this case Brecht’s Epic Theater and Artaud’s Theater of Cruelty—among the countercultures of Britain and the United States in the 1960s. Sebald, however, mentions Marat/Sade only in passing. Instead, he discusses Weiss’s early career as a painter; his surreal autobiographical novella, Leavetaking; his controversial documentary play about the Frankfurt Auschwitz trials, The Investigation; and, at greatest length, his late three-volume novel about the German anti-fascist underground, The Aesthetics of Resistance.

more here.