Read 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 by Peter Weiss Geoffrey Skelton Adrian Mitchell Peter Brook Richard Peaslee Online


This extraordinary play, which swept Europe before coming to America, is based on two historical truths: the infamous Marquis de Sade was confined in the lunatic asylum of Charenton, where he staged plays; and the revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat was stabbed in a bathtub by Charlotte Corday at the height of the Terror during the French Revolution. But this play-within-a-playThis extraordinary play, which swept Europe before coming to America, is based on two historical truths: the infamous Marquis de Sade was confined in the lunatic asylum of Charenton, where he staged plays; and the revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat was stabbed in a bathtub by Charlotte Corday at the height of the Terror during the French Revolution. But this play-within-a-play is not historical drama. Its thought is as modern as today's police states and The Bomb; its theatrical impact has everywhere been called a major innovation. It is total theatre: philosophically problematic, visually terrifying. It engages the eye, the ear, and the mind with every imaginable dramatic device, technique, and stage picture, even including song and dance. All the forces and elements possible to the stage are fused in one overwhelming experience. This is theatre such as has rarely been seen before. The play is basically concerned with the problem of revolution. Are the same things true for the masses and for their leaders? And where, in modern times, lie the borderlines of sanity?...

Title : 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
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ISBN : 9781577662310
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 128 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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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 Reviews

  • Ted
    2018-12-18 15:10

    The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat, as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton, Under the Direction of the Marquise de Sade.Isn't that it? Maybe spelling errors.I saw this play performed at Arena Stage in Washington D.C. somewhere around 40 years ago. It was a great production of a very interesting play, which was all the rage back then. I should probably take another look at it, seeing as I now know at least a bit more about the French Revolution, which is the context of the play. The edition I have is not available on Goodreads, it was published by Atheneum in 1968, with the English version of the play done by Geoffrey Skelton.What I find amazing, given my memory, is that the full title of the play has stuck with me all these years. Must have been pretty catchy, I guess. How could anyone forget it?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Previous review: Values in a Universe of ChanceRandom review: Hag-Seed Atwood does ShakespeareNext review: Over The American Landscape at the Tipping PointPrevious library review: Leonard Maltin's Movie GuideNext library review: Thanks and Sorry and Good Luck Lee Klein

  • Anna C
    2018-12-18 18:05

    In preparation for this review, I bumped many of my five star reviews down to four. I will never again lavish a five star rating on a book that did not move me viscerally.This is the profound effect "Marat/Sade" had on me.At first glance, "Marat/Sade" is simply a play within a play. The inmates act out the final days of Marat, while Sade orchestrates the action from outside. The common people- who have withstood the French Revolution and the rise of Napoleon without any noticeable improvement of their lot in life- begin to rebel against the play itself. They either rehash censored bits or stray from the script itself. Meanwhile, the entire production is watched over by Coulmier, the bourgeois director of the asylum. As the representation of the new Napoleonic order, he tries to suppress the play's swing towards radicalism and anchor the asylum back into a pro-Bonaparte status quo. Marat and Corday, the two main figures of the play within, come across as doomed figures who were drafted into their roles by fate.But most chilling of all is Sade himself. Detached and uncaring, he presides unflinchingly over the chaos he has created. Sade spends most of the play on his dais, watching over the shuffling inmates with a rather bemused look. But when he does descend into the inner play, "Marat/Sade" hits its best moments. Corday whipping Sade has become the most infamous scene of the drama, yet Sade's lengthy monologues with Marat are sublime.I was unsurprised to learn that the playwright, Peter Weiss, was a Marxist. The play is all about revolutions. You know the kind- the sort of revolution that fills the common people with hope, appears to make vast strides, whips ardent fanatics into a fervor, racks up enormous piles of bodies in the name of progress, and then collapses into an even greater tyranny than before. The radical Marat may get some of the best lines of the play, but it is the common inmates, the people who live out lives of poverty and can at best hope to move from the chattel of a King to the chattel of an emperor, who steal the show.Sometimes when I read, I can feel all the meaning going over my head. I associate this with reading Joyce, and I usually consider it an unpleasant experience. However, I grasped enough of "Marat/Sade" to realize that I was in the presence of a work of genius. I hope to encounter this play along the road, hopefully in the sort of dreaded literature class that dissects a text until it is a mangled heap of blood and bone. If not, I will just defy Goodreads and the looming deadline of my annual reading challenge. I'll just have to read this over and over again.I read a lot of plays, and I've always found the experience a bit disappointing. Dialogue and a smattering of stage directions is usually not enough to have the sort of moving experience that marks good theater. But "Marat/Sade" works on two levels. The dialogue itself can be read as literature itself. It is profound and philosophical. The stage directions (inmates sing haunting death marches, are beat by sadistic nurses, are forced into nonsensical tasks like crossing the stage while hopping on one leg) suggest that in the hands of a good director, the play could be chilling. The delightfully disturbing production combined with the dizzyingly profound dialogue? I can only imagine it.

  • Marvin
    2018-12-16 11:22

    Possibly the most amazing play I've ever read. I have never seen it on stage but there is a riveting film under the direction of Peter Brooks that can be found on DVD with a little effort. But the reading of this play is a revelation in itself. It is very complex, a play-within-a-play, and works on so many social and philosophical levels that you come away dizzy. If you read the title, you've read the plot. But it is the ideas expressed in the play within the play that makes this a classic. Strange, a little challenging, and an unique experience.

  • Erik Graff
    2018-11-19 11:08

    There were few fieldtrips in high school, but one was quite memorable. I'd been to the Art Institute of Chicago before, certainly, but we were taken to see a travelling exhibit of the works of David. Of those paintings I was most struck by The Death of Marat, the image of which has remained clear. Jim Gottreich, the teacher of sophomore European history, introduced us to the study of the French Revolution which, of course, was so like our own. Looking for role models, I did not much attend to the Terror. By senior year and Tim Little's course in A.P. European, I had also become attracted to Marx and friends with a number of professed Marxists in the classes which had already gone on to college. Keeping with entrenched habits, I naturally favored Trotsky over Lenin and both of them over the communists who governed the Soviet Union's experiment in applied Marxism after Lenin's strokes. By then, Marat was more than a name, several of his journalistic pieces appearing in collections of literature of the period. He, like Trotsky and Lenin, was an idealist confronted with political opportunity who took the leap into practical action, if mostly rhetorical. It was some time in the beginning of that last year of secondary school that friends introduced me to the source of Judy Collins' song about Marat: Peter Weiss' play. Actually, it is more about the dynamics of revolutions with much more attention paid and voice given to the dark side than I had allowed myself in previous studies. Since Weiss was himself a Swedish communist and since his play, through the inmates acting in de Sade's production, gives voice to the interests of "ordinary" people, his allowing de Sade his arguments and demonstrations against the doomed Marat was acceptable. I "listened" and thought seriously about the fact that so many revolutionary movements, including our own, betrayed the common aspirations of many of their leaders and the common interests of the great masses of people in whose interests they were supposedly conducted and who, in fact, were the engines of transformation. Years later, in seminary, I had the opportunity to see the BBC teleplay, Marat/Sade, with Vanessa Redgrave and other members of the Royal Shakespeare Company and, so, actually listen to the play. Marat/Sade is brilliant. Unlike many plays, it reads well as literature, but if one has the chance, see it on stage also. Although requiring some knowledge of the French Revolution and although the more one knows about that, about Marat, about deSade and about Napoleon the more one will get from the reading, one will not be stymied by only a cursory understanding of the historical period on 1789-1808. The play works on its own terms well enough. Indeed, it is actually often very funny and the songs are catchy--I probably remember most of them. All commentaries agree that the German original is far superior to the English translation. If you know German, go for the original.

  • Sookie
    2018-12-16 14:03

    Speechless. It isn't an easy play to review. It isn't literature that can be easily dissected to the semi-plot that the title of the play betrays. The beauty comes in the setting. It comes with the distance the main characters place themselves on stage - both physically and as characters. They share monologues, righteous moral standards and a prison between them. The verses are almost always philosophical meditations which can be seen as bunch of pretentious lines or Marxist agenda. As the underlying theme is necessity of revolution, Weiss touches upon people and their king and the madness it must take for a revolution to spring. Oh, the irony of it all? The actors who are performing this play are in an asylum.

  • Czarny Pies
    2018-12-10 10:57

    Marat Sade is probably the greatest single work composed to the norms of Antonin Artaud's theatre of cruelty. It is loud, energetic and thoroughly engaging. I had the good fortune to see it performed life by Poland's national theatre in Warsaw in 1982 in a production that was every bit as good as the one that was filmed, starring Glenda Jackson.Weiss thesis that revolutions involve competing madnesses is very compelling. His treatment of French political thought during the period of the French Revolution is deft and erudite.Do not bother to read his play. It is meant purely for the stage. Try to download or rent a copy of the movie directed by the great Peter Brook and featuring Glenda Jackson, Patrick Magee, and Clifford Rose.

  • Nicole
    2018-12-14 17:55

    Funny how I haven't read this for years, but a few bits from the production I saw part of (TV version? watched in class) have stuck in my head, inc. "we want what we want and we don't care how/we want our revolution now!" and the singy-songy bit whenever the name Charlotte Corday pops up. Not that you run into a lot of references to Charlotte Corday outside the occasional Jeopardy! question.

  • Atefeh Ahmadi
    2018-11-19 18:02

    ترجمه‌اش اذیتم کرد،مخصوصن اصرار مترجم برای موزون بودن ترجمه‌ی آوازها

  • Will
    2018-12-15 10:57

    There's the patronizing idea (popularized in a bad essay by Susan Sontag) that this is just a "director's play" because its success more or less depends on how it's staged, and (lucky for us) Peter Brook's English film adaption is brilliantly staged. The speeches given by Marat and Sade (especially on the execution of Robert-François Damiens) are the kind of high oratory you'd think would just put those criticisms to rest. "The important thing is to pull yourself up, by your own hair, to pull yourself inside out and see the world with fresh eyes."

  • J.W. Dionysius Nicolello
    2018-12-07 10:55

    Best play I've read this year, I think. I might have to think harder, but I'm hard-pressed to think of a play I read (Aside from Tennessee's one acts) that I really liked. I've had better years for theater. Made me regret having sold my collected Sade out on Humboldt for an imperceptibly low price, but having consumed the Sade cannon by like age 19, this is probably for the best. There are a couple of quotes in this play that I intend to steal for elsewhere, which of course I can't admit to, specifically, here. So read this play if you've had it up to here with all of the other plays and want your theatrical faith reconfirmed

  • Lorma Doone
    2018-11-25 18:06

    It took FOREVER for me to read this. FOREVER. And not because I didn't want it to end. I thought it would NEVER end. I think my disinterest in this play is further proof that Brechtian alienation and Theatre of Cruelty are just not for me. I'd rather be invited into a world than shunned from it. Perhaps seeing it onstage would change my opinion of it, but as a reading experience? AWFUL. Just AWFUL.

  • Kevin Stephany
    2018-12-08 13:24

    Peter Weiss’ Marat/Sade presented the most original take on the “play-within-a-play” concept that I’ve ever read. The fictitious historical drama described the events leading up to the bloodthirsty firebrand of the French Revolution’s assassination. One of literature’s more infamous writers penned the work. An asylum served as the setting. Should I even continue with this review? I’d be surprised if a number of readers haven’t logged off to find a copy of the book by now. Mr. Weiss selected a rather verbose title. Most refer to 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 by the abbreviated Marat/Sade. While lengthy I give the playwright credit: the drama corresponded with what I expected from the label. That’s where the ‘easy’ reading ended, however. As someone familiar with both the French Revolution and de Sade’s writing, I anticipated a philosophical take on the historical events surrounding this pivotal event in human history. Once again, the playwright didn’t disappoint. He presented a deep intellectual exploration of conditions during the Revolution in 1793 when the Marat story occurred. He then contrasted them to French life on the fifteenth anniversary of Marat’s murder when de Sade directed the play. Mr. Weiss cleverly inserted his own leftist views into the 1965 text, too. The Herald character noted:The Revolution came and wentAnd unrest was replaced by discontent. (Page 26) Four of the asylum’s patients followed this up with their thoughts. Patient: We’ve got rights the right to starve Patient: We’ve got jobs waiting for workPatient: We’re all brothers lousy and dirty Patient: We’re all free and equal to die like dogs (Page 26) While I disagree with Mr. Weiss’ political leanings I respect his excellent use of subtext. I didn’t read the play in the original German. Geoffrey Skelton’s English translation contained some outstanding usage of language. I found Marat’s assassin’s--Charlotte Corday’s—view of her target expressed exceptionally well. In the following dialog she alluded to Marat’s medicinal baths where he wrote his invectives calling for more and more violence. Corday (sleepily and hesitantly): Poor Marat in your bathtub Your body soaked, saturated with poison (waking up) Poison spurting from your hiding place Poisoning the people Arousing them to looting and murder. (Page 30)I liked the interesting way of describing his venomous words. Marat described his country’s upheaval in unflattering terms. We stand here more oppressed than when we began(Points across the auditorium)And they think the Revolution’s been won. (Page 56)Mr. Weiss used the character of the Marquis de Sade in amusing ways. Not only did he write and direct the play-within-the-play he also took part in it. Several times he interjected his own views on the subject; in some cases directly speaking to the Marat character. Sade opined the following on the killing of aristocrats. Look at them MaratThese men who once owned everythingSee how they turn their defeat into victoryNow that their pleasures have been taken awayThe guillotine saves them from endless boredomGaily they offer their heads as if for coronationIs that not the pinnacle of perversion (Page 41)I enjoyed the touch of irony with the character’s use of that final word. De Sade also explained his thoughts on public opinion to his protagonist. MaratToday they need you because you are going to suffer for themThey need you and they honor the urn which holds your ashesTomorrow they will come back and they will smash that urnAnd they will askMarat who was Marat (Page 71) While not expressed in the text, I wonder if those words hurt Marat more than Ms. Corday’s dagger. I thought the playwright used exposition too liberally in the play. It opened with the asylum’s director (Coulmier) delivering a prologue. The character explained the setting, the date and the set-up as well as other aspects of the Marat/Sade show. Later in the drama, various characters from Marat’s past described various aspects of his personality during his formative years. While already familiar with the story of Marat’s assassination, I would’ve preferred the playwright interspersed these incidents into the narrative itself. A parade of characters coming on stage to talk about the main character stopped the story too abruptly for me.I’d also encourage readers unfamiliar with Marat to learn about him before reading. Those lacking knowledge about his publication L’Ami du people, his murder by Charlotte Corday and his medicinal baths won’t understand the story. Some background in the Marquis de Sade’s political philosophy and writings would help in that regard, as well. Reading Marat/Sade with this context would give the play more impact as it’s cerebral instead of action driven. Marat/Sade succeeded on multiple levels. It presented a philosophical take on political and social conditions in Revolutionary France with parallels to the modern era. The playwright framed them through the perceptions of two of history’s most notorious figures. It impressed me that he achieved all this using the play-within-a-play technique. I enjoyed reading and would welcome the opportunity to watch it performed. I won’t do either of those things from a bathtub, though.

  • Laura Morrigan
    2018-12-18 10:56

    I should actually note I have not read this play in full but there was no option for watched/ performed and I really adored it and wanted to add it. I have seen a short version of this, and participated in tryouts for the play where I both saw and performed monologues from the play. I love the speeches and the poetry!

  • Ziggy
    2018-12-10 18:08

    incredibly dense and a hard read but utterly fascinating. I last read this at Uni and remembered nothing apart from this being the play where the guy is murdered in the bathtub. Sometimes it pays to read something again when you have matured and spent a good deal of time in the author's birth country!

  • Heidi (KosminenK)
    2018-12-10 15:11

    Jean Paul Marat on vallankumouksellinen jakobiini ja girondistien sekä aatelisten kuolemanlistojen kirjoittaja. Hän kirjoitti myös kansaakiihottavia vallankumousta tukevia kirjoituksia. Näytelmässä Marat's repliikit ovat autenttista materiaalia. Marat sairasti ihokeliakiaa ja siksi vietti paljon aikaa ammeessa olotilaansa helpottavissa hoidoissa. Marat'n murhaa girondisti Charlotte Corday. Näytelmä näytelmän sisällä. Markiisista herra De Sadeksi alennettu vankilatuomioiden ja laitoshoitoon joutunut ohjaa mielisairaalaympäristössä näytelmää, jossa joukko potilaita näyttelee. De Saden näytelmän aiheena on Marat'n vainoaminen ja murhaan johtaneet syyt. Murhaan johtavat ajatukset ja keskustelut on pilkottu osiin ja hidastelleen viedään loppuun. De Sade seuraa tapahtumia ja osallistuu keskusteluihin Marat'n kanssa. Keskustelut eivät ole autenttisia, ainoastaan Marat'n repliikit. Groteskia, karnevalismia ja desademaista toimintaa ja tapahtumien tarkkailua. Performatiivista sadismia. Individualismi versus poliittinen/sosiaalinen/yhteiskunnallinen muutosvaatimus. Lukukokemuksena hullunmylly, pyörremyrsky, kiivas, mäiskivä, ahdas, pöljistyttävä ja kierosti absurdi. Lukemisen aikana tulin miettineeksi miten näytelmä toimisi teatterin lavalla. Fyysistä ja bakkanaalista hengennostatusta. De Saden poliittinen sadisti-fantasia. Hän on tarttunut Marat'n hengennostatukseen ja tehnyt siitä omanlaisensa irvikuvan.

  • Alice Farmer
    2018-11-26 18:57

    I don't know why I didn't review this when I read it. Very intriguing play, and the merging of Brecht's Epic Theatre and Artaud's Theatre of Cruelty would be interesting to see in a live setting; my drama teacher told me how he staged a production of this for a Year 12 class and for the scene where De Sade is whipped he had CRT TVs lining the stage and on the sides and had actors (or techies, I can't remember which) with camera streaming Marat's facial expressions blasting the audience with his sadist expressions—similar to the torture scene in the 1984 stage production.

  • Scott
    2018-11-29 11:06

    A play within a play, in which inmates of a lunatic asylum put on a play about the assassination of Jean-Paul Marat while the asylum's director watches, periodically objecting to the political content, often remarking that a particular scene was to have been cut. It is great theater, as well as a meditation on the nature of revolution, its abuses, and means and ends.

  • K.
    2018-11-25 14:21

    3.5 stars.When meta meets history meets poetry meets absurdism, we get this. I'm still not entirely certain I fully understand the scope of it.

  • Amber
    2018-12-18 15:16

    I read this for a German lit in translation class in college.

  • theo
    2018-11-20 17:13

    if it wasn't assigned reading i probably. wouldn't have gotten past page 3 but ok

  • Schmacko
    2018-12-06 11:17

    If you put Weiss's play within the context of theater history, you can see how significant it is. He forwards Shakespeare's and Brecht's "play within a play" alienation in a more modern play. He created a sort of staging that allowed theater to separate itself from film, the be particularly theatrical.The residents of a French asylum reenact the demise and assassination of one of their great revolutionary leaders, Jean-Paul Marat. The director of the asylum is using this art to rehabilitate these very lunatic people. The problem is that he's put the play's writing and producing into the hands of Marquis de Sade - the French nobleman jailed for most of his life for writing indecent, pornographic works. (His works are filled with blood and violence and sex - he is where we get the word Sadism.)Sade knew Marat, and he casts himself as a character who steps into the play to make his points. Also, when the play turns violent, Sade and the director of the asylum debate. Sade also uses the actors to debate. The director's wife and child - there for political reason, to show that the inmates are safe - sit at the side, watching the play.Sade's basic premise - and possibly Weiss's - is that there are no successful formal revolutions - that all true revolutions must be bloody, violent destruction of the old to keep the patterns from re-emerging in the new regimes. He espouses total anarchy. Marat argues for war that will lead to peace - planned destruction for the sake of construction. Sade says that even attempting this is madness - using proof of Napoleon's despotic rise to power as proof. Of course, it gets ugly in the asylum.One of the ironies is that Sade was a nobleman saved from beheading in the revolution by his passionate speech for a fallen French hero. The truth is, that if Sade weren't so eloquent, he would've face the guillotine just like most other French nobles.There is much talk about the alienation of the play. I disagree that this is strictly Brechtian alienation - the actors do not reveal themselves outside of their characters. This is more play-within-a-play. Weiss writes copious notes at how the cast creates elaborate scenery using their bodies for door and the various asylum bathroom accoutrement for props. That being said, there is a certain formalism to the play - in the words and their presentation. There is also a datedness in the language - this feels like a play of the 1960s. The mad people in the cast are given text and action that let them wildly act out their craziness instead of grounding their mental illnesses and maladies in reality - it's very showy stuff. If I were to direct Marat/Sade (as it's called in short) - I would work to bring more realism, naturalism that slowly boils down into mental instability as the play wears on. The play is also probably a little longer than it needs to be - being written at a time where people felt that a two-hour brilliant play was good but a two-and-a-half-hour brilliant play was getting their money's worth.Overall, it's a play worth reading (or see the 1967 film version) for any theater person, to understand its significance in moving from formal realism of 1950s theater into a more stage-oriented and imaginative work.

  • Tom Schulte
    2018-11-21 18:07

    This edition starts with a wonderful introduction/essay by Peter Brook, the English theatre and film director. Not only does he analyze the play and its reception but tackles the topic of what makes theatre good, in general.The play itself is one of Sade's swan songs from imprisonment at Charenton, the final imprisonment and the place of his death. In it, the imaginary meeting between the Marquis and Marat is a departure point for Sade, who had said, "It is not my mode of thought that has caused my misfortunes, but the mode of thought of others", to feel resentment over his own condition:"Give up Marat You said yourself nothing can be achieved by scribbling Long ago I abandoned my masterpiece a roll of paper in my dungeon years ago It vanished when the Bastille fell it vanished as everything written everything thought and planned will disappear."and echo the French soul's buyer's remorse over buying revolution heavily seasoned with violence:"We're all so clogged with dead ideas passed from generation to generation that even the best of us don't know the way out We invented the Revolution but we don't know how to run it Look everyone wants to keep something from the past a souvenir of the old regime This man decides to keep a painting This one keeps his mistress He [pointing] keeps his garden He [pointing] keeps his estate He keeps his country house He keeps his factories This man couldn't part with his shipyards This one kept his army and that one keeps his king"Marat and Sade both saw the need for revolutionary change and in answering the call, they were killed by the demons they themselves helped to summon:" came one day to the Revolution because you saw the most important vision That our circumstances must be changed fundamentally and without these changes everything we try to do must fail"

  • Keith
    2018-11-28 16:07

    Weiss’ Marat Sade is an amazing spectacle of speech, verse, song. design and idea. It is at once startling, beautiful, funny and horrific. In a general, the play evinces a lack of faith in any government (or human?) organization. Governments are de-personalizing, de-humanizing bureaucracies capable of the most inhuman things (including making weapons capable of killing millions). Men try and fail (sometimes catastrophically) to change the existing order. The question is whether anything can be done.The French Revolution ended up doing little for the poor and disenfranchised. By the end of it, the new powerful were enriching and engorging themselves at the expense of the poor (and even the middle class). And Napoleon’s rise to emperorship basically undid whatever advances the revolution made in terms of freedom, liberty and egalitarianism. The play compares the viewpoints of Marat and Sade. Marat promotes an active (revolutionary) role in society, whereas Sade – who seems the most rational of any character in the play – promotes the life of the individual (anarchist?), seeing any attempt to improve the world order as doomed to failed. I suppose the play questions Marat’s methods – and role - in history. But he’s not that ambiguous. Someone would have to point to something he did that had a concrete positive end-result. To me, his role in the French Revolution was one bloody disaster after another. Like most revolutions, it devolved into a violent morass of extremism, despotism, paranoia and horror. Overall, however, Marat Sade is a wonderful play and I strongly encourage theater-lovers to read/see the play. I guess I believe the surface is more interesting than the substance.

  • Dorottya
    2018-11-26 14:56

    This play has me under its influence. I liked how innovative and extraordinary and strange it was. There are so many details that I found really intricate. I loved the play within a play (especially that aspect that the actors are not professional actors but asylum members) and also de Sade's "mental" debate with "Marat" - let's not forget the fact that de Sade was a member of the asylum, too. The rhyme scheme was spot on (with the couplets with uneven lenghts for the herald, and free verse for the more philosophical debates and more important characters). I liked the themes, too - like equality versus uniqueness (or if they contradict each other or not, what does equality mean after all), what happened after the revolution, are the people coming out of the revolution better than who went in, censorship...and then, why 4 stars? I'm gonna be honest and I'm not gonna be one of those snobs who are going to say they understood everything quickly and entirely - the language and the themes in the debate were sometimes hard to read for me. I enjoyed the reading process nevertheless, but this issue affected my reading.

  • Julian Meynell
    2018-12-03 16:15

    This is very much an avant garde 1960's play steeped in pretentiousness and a play that its author labelled as Marxist. It is absolutely a lot of fun and I would love to see it staged however. It uses a bunch of trendy techniques from European playwriting in this period, but uses them effectively and with a lot of fun and interesting ideas. The play is a play within a play, but the play within the play is coterminous with the play itself. Much of the play is told in verse. I am also not quite sure how you would stage it with a manageable cast. I find both de Sade and Marat to be fairly contemptible people, but they are of course complex figures and despite the experimental nature of the play captures them well. The play is about revolution, ideological commitment, the failure of revolutions and madness. The characters in the play with the play are played by insane people within the asylum, so we see not characters but the insane acting them. Its good fun and well written. I was not sure of the writing at first, but it won me over.It should be pretentious trash, but its not. Plus it has the world's best title.

  • Jamie MacDonald Jones
    2018-11-24 18:14

    Alrhough the historical afterword by Weiss is brief, it goes a long way to framing the context of the play and adding value to what the reader has just encountered. As a read play, this book was superb in its depiction of alternate views and justifications, while operating ingeniously as a play within a play and was a beautiful act of fiction on Weiss' part to unite present Sade and Marat alongside one another. The philosophical overtones were impressive, embedded within the play without being overbearing and also somehow always conscious that they were being espoused by the inmates playing these characters. The depiction of Sade is nuanced and engrossing. As a play, I was surprised by the ending, perhaps being cautiously expectant that other aspects of the play within a play would form a dénouement. As it was, I was pleasantly surprised. The only detraction from this play I can point out is that, when read, the stage directions break the flow of any of the speech, rendering its meaning disjointed and the poetry is lost. I imagine this would be vastly different on the stage.

  • Dan
    2018-12-07 13:55

    Weiss’s play is set in an asylum. The Marquis de Sade is one of the inmates in this asylum, and he stages a play about the death of Marat, using other inmates in the asylum as actors.The play employs Bertolt Brechtian distancing devices. In the prologue, for instance, we are told what the action of the play will be. Much of the exposition comes not from the actors acting, but from a herald who tells us about the characters (and about the asylum inmates playing the roles). The text is divided into sections that are numbered and titled. While the fact that the play is set in an asylum and includes the Marquis de Sade as a character might suggest to some the ideas of Antonin Artaud, this is Brechtian “epic theatre” rather than Artaudian “theatre of cruelty.

  • Susan
    2018-12-01 17:11

    A complex play to be sure. And believe me one that is even more complex to design costumes for. I really love it though and wish that I did fully understand it. This play is close to my heart and it got that way very quickly. I saw it performed through my drama school, Toi Whakaari last year by a group of my school friends and they did such a great great job. This play is gritty and grimy and terrifying and so strong and forceful. It's definately a must read. I don't really know what to say that could even possibly be of any intelligence next to this book. There really is nothing but read it. Love it. Then read it again. Then once you've done that hunt the play down and watch it in a stage show. P.S. Toi Whakaari you did NOT need to try make the play relevant right now. Let this one speak on it's own. It most certainly does it without anyone else trying to add anything to it.

  • planetkiller
    2018-11-18 14:20

    "Marat/Sade" is a very confusing play, which makes sense considering a group of asylum inmates are performing the play within the play. The writer/director often talks with the actors of his play; most of the main argument come from this fourth wall breaking commentary.Weiss makes negative and controversial points about sacred subjects, such as religion and revolution, through insane characters; this comes off as a sort of protection for the author. If anyone complains about the priest jumping to his feet to condemn religion, Weiss can explain that the man was insane and immediately restrained by nurses. It's almost like eating his cake and having it too.That said, Weiss makes a lot of good points and gives the audience lots of opportunities to consider those points (by having the inmates interrupt right after the climax of Marat or Sade's argument).

  • Mitchell
    2018-12-19 14:20

    I have been obsessed with this play ever since it played in New York back in the 60s. I used to check the Royal Shakespeare Company recording out of the library all the time and was surprised that I had whole chunks of it still memorized almost 40 years later. The movie, of course looms very large.It is a difficult play to read because it is so theatrical and it seem to me that so much of the power of it depends on the stagecraft. I am not so sure about the philosophy of the play... Marat's impassioned humanism counterpoised with DeSade's sensual nihilism. I am looking forward to my book club's discussion. I think I will try to watch the film again before that and also see how much of the original German I can read.