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Marat/Sade (German Library) [Paperback]

Peter Weiss , Robert Cohen


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Book Description

1 Sep 1998 German Library (Book 92)
In the mid-1960s, "The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Perfomed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Chernton under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade" was made into a film by British directory Peter Brook. The weaving of space, time, plot, real and imagined characters, sexual liberation, and surrealist imagery made "Marat/Sade" a sensation. Little did audiences realize that this "counterculture" play was actually written by a German Jew. The then practically unknown Peter Weiss (1916-82) was also at work on a play about Auschwitz - "The Investigation" - which is one of the most significant literary treatments of the subject. Both plays, plus "The Shadow of the Coachman's Body" are included in this volume.

Product details

  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd.; First Edition edition (1 Sep 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826409636
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826409638
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 13.7 x 2.3 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,298,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A play where surrealism and disenchantment clash 2 Feb 2001
By Gina DeGiovanni - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
When the character of Marquis de Sade shouts out at Marat, "Can't you see this patriotism is lunacy/Long ago I left heroics to the heroes/I turn my back on this nation/I turn my back on all the nations. . ." the reader can truly sense what the play of Marat/Sade is all about. As the reader gets lost in the production of a play within a play, the idea of surrealism presents itself almost at once. The reenactment of the killing of Jean-Paul Marat by Charlotte Corday seems to be a secondary plot alongside of the chanting and screaming of idealism concerning the revolution and liberty. A division of strategies regarding revolution develops between Marat and Sade. Marat advocates fast action, while Sade preaches that it is hopeless or fruitless to even bother to act. Of course, the cries of the asylum patients tend to distract, but it all adds to the surreal, bizarre nature of the play. I felt that one of the aspects the play touches on is how the revolution affects those living within it. The ideas of liberty, freedom, and revolution all make for interesting debate, but I felt one of the themes that struck me was the reality of revolution as it affects those who live around it day in and day out. One of the more striking scenes of the play, for me, came when Charlotte is in the middle of a monologue, describing children playing with toy-like guillotines. The very idea of children treating such a deathly object as a toy is disturbing, but also brings to life the desensitization that revolution brings about. The play reminds the reader that the death of masses makes the value of life and the impact of an individual death meaningless. That alone is a very somber and surreal thought. There are literary techniques throughout the play that seem to remind the reader that the dramatization depicts things which took place in the past, but threaten to become a part of our future. Marat/Sade attempts to mock the aristocratic classes that seem to catalyze such mass movements of revolution in the first place. The play seems to slap the hand of those in power through the action that takes place throughout. Every time that the characters in the play (the asylum patients) seem to become too excited or outspoken, when the truth behind their madness seems to get out of control, the "Herald" of the play speaks out to placate Coulmier, the director of the asylum. I believe that Weiss tries to make the play more socially acceptable by presenting it in a way that mocks and brings out the weakness of the debacle of government that followed, in this case, the French Revolution, but actually cuts across so many more layers than just one isolated revolution.
Our society will always have people who have large amounts of material wealth, and those who do not. That is an injustice that we must rise above, and change ourselves. Whether our means of change is reached through violence and upheaval or through escape within oneself, this is the core dialectic that the play tackles. Although at times this play is a little hard to follow or even outlandish, the play offers a look at how society deals with its corruption and injustice once it escalates to what may seem to be a point of no return. The element that seems to be the most surreal in my mind is that the ranting of the characters within the play, although they are asylum patients, reveal more truth and brutal honesty than the audience would like to admit. I think Weiss is clever to choose some very clear and controversial themes and present them in a way that is socially appropriate. He does this by blatantly speaking out against established forms of government and rule, but discrediting the characters speaking by placing them in an insane asylum. It is true to say that there are many elements of the play that never seem to completely gel in the end, or come together nicely as in most plays. But to be honest, if the story had come together neatly in the end, the essence of the play would have been lost. I think the point of the play is to show that although people may have conflicting ideals of how to handle a revolution, whether of government or ideology, things do not always work out as we had hoped. People may preach liberty and justice, but when the reality is murder and riots, there are two conflicting messages being handled at once. I believe that is what this play shows rather well. In a very surreal and bizarre way, Weiss enables the reader to see that society hardly ever practices what they preach, and although our goal might be change, in the end, upheaval and disarray may be the only things truly achieved.
11 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars good play 28 Sep 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The world in which we live operates on systems of inequalities which are overtly justified by the minor inequalities of people's intellegence, motivation, appearance, etc. However, the relative personal inequalities among people are in no way commensurate with the unequal material conditions in which we live, to a degree which is often tragic and criminal in the truest sense of that word.
In Peter Weis's play "Marat/Sade", the character Marquis de Sade states that it was in trying to understand our criminal society, and personally disadvantaged by self-hatred, he became a criminal himself, and this outsider position forced him to focus on personal escape through brilliant, inventive, one-time sensual or artistic acts. The character Jean Paul Marat, more of an idealist, believed escape could only be successful if everyone escaped together, through the restructuring of all of society, by sudden powerful intervention. These two approaches are opposite. Everyone agrees that sure, the world could be better, but the question of "how" leads to conflict. This is the central conflict of "Marat Sade", one of the world's greatest conflicts, and I think it is fascinating.
1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Marat/Sade 2 Feb 2001
By Patrick Faraday - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Marat/Sade, by Peter Weiss, is a play centering on the murder of Jean Paul Marat. Weiss sets the play in the Asylum of Charenton, where both Marat and the Marquis de Sade are inmates. Before reading this play, I did not have much knowledge of Marquis de Sade or Jean Paul Marat. The French Revolution was a topic that I had studied, however not these members specifically. For the reading of this work, not much understanding of these ideas is needed. Some knowledge of Modernism would be helpful for insight into the motivation and reasoning of the play, however that is not needed either. The plot of the play is very thin and does not do much for the reader. There does not seem to be much action involved in the play. The characters mainly discuss and wax philosophical about the French Revolution and whether or not it was successful. It is the characters themselves and the dialogue that are most intriguing. Characters that are patients in the asylum are the driving force of the work. Many off the wall topics and rants are shouted by any number of patients. Clever use of the director of the asylum gives the reader a better sense of how a play produced in an asylum might work out. The format of the work is what seems to be an extended poem. The rhyme scheme, which is at points non-existent, can be carried from one character to the next. This is at times confusing, however it does give the work a somewhat psychotic feel. The work is a relatively easy read, however it does at times get to be a bit confusing. Because the plot is so thin, the reader is bombarded with confusing dialogue, rather than constant flowing action. The work leaves something to desired, as the reader waits for some twist of fate or action that may create some interest. Personally, I was not impressed with the work as a whole from an entertainment aspect. However as a writer I could see the work is definitely that of a talented author. There is a political aspect to the work that focuses around Sade. The many conversations between Marat and Sade focus on the Revolution and its positives and negatives. Commentary is given on the state of affairs during this time, as well as the idea that revolutions do not work on a general basis. Other such ideals are discussed throughout the work, however Sade seems to be more of a reactionary and Marat seems to be more of an idealist. On a whole this work does accomplish its goals in discussing sadism and other such ideas. Modernistic works such as this, often do not have much entertainment value, however they are quite intellectual and original; the two best points of this work.
1 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars my opinion 2 Feb 2001
By tony damico - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The Marat Sade is truly misery made beautiful, where else can the hero be made to suffer as much as Marat does. Through the course of the reading one can not help but desire to emulate the characteristics of Marat, this and the conflict between Marat and Sade are the elements of the story that keeps interests and stimulates thoughts. Weiss argues both the points of view of Marat and Sade well and ultimately delivers an interesting message.
The Marat Sade does have a captivating message, but much of the beauty in the delivery of the message may have been lost in the translation. Translations are difficult to accomplish, especially when many words do not translate from one language to another, and when verse or meter is concerned, especially verse or meter that rhyme it is nearly improbable. However, the story did have its moments of intrigue especially some of the monologues. To be truly understood The Marat Sade needs to be seen. This realization is probably what inspired someone to make the play into a film.
The film about was not stimulating aside from a few moments of irony in the simplest form made out to be humorous. The story is meant to be seen on the stage. The time period that the film was made in was not equipped well enough with special effects ,not that there was need for this in the Marat Sade but it could have made some kind of impact. The Low budget appearance of the film added to the melancholy of the film that appeared worse than the disorder of the mental patient playing Charlotte Corday and defiantly makes the viewer experience moments of sudden and involuntary sleep. If done today and well budgeted as well as directed the play could be portrayed through cameras in a most pleasing manner. Still, the play is meant to be seen on stage, this is the true way for the audience to feel the experience that Weiss wanted otherwise he would have written a film script.
I do not claim to be an expert on Marat Sade or some official critic or well read for that matter but neither is the general public and that is who an artiest should want to reach considering they are the majority, even though they fall to rule. This play is a product of the past. I feel that most American people would not be able to relate to it and they would fall to be lured into the story. The martyr roll has been over used - after all many people were force fed a similar story since birth.
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