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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

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4.03  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,314 Ratings  ·  89 Reviews
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-play ...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published December 1st 2001 by Waveland Pr Inc (first published 1963)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Marvin
Sep 05, 2011 Marvin rated it it was amazing
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. Stra ...more
Anna C
Jul 15, 2014 Anna C rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Sookie
Apr 09, 2016 Sookie rated it really liked it
Shelves: translated, plays, 2016

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 under
...more
Erik Graff
Aug 12, 2014 Erik Graff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: Walter Wallace, Ed Erickson
Shelves: drama
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 t
...more
Nicole
Nov 23, 2014 Nicole rated it liked it
Shelves: plays-and-poetry
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.
Abimelech Abimelech
Dec 12, 2012 Abimelech Abimelech rated it it was amazing
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, spe ...more
Schmacko
Jan 31, 2015 Schmacko rated it really liked it
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 thes
...more
Laura Morrigan
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!
Czarny Pies
Nov 18, 2014 Czarny Pies rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Theatre Lovers.
Recommended to Czarny by: Keith Lawson. Marek Dabrowski got me the tickets.
Shelves: german-lit
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 R
...more
Danine
Nov 20, 2015 Danine rated it it was amazing
Damn, this was good. This play within a play illustrates the last moments of Marat's life by the Marquis de Sade and asylum crew. This is quite possibly the only time I didn't find Sade's dialog painfully boring. Being that it's not actually Sade but Weiss.

Excerpts I liked from the play:

Marat: The important thing
is to pull yourself up by your own hair
to turn yourself inside out
and see the whole world through fresh eyes.

Four Singers: Don't soil your pretty little shoes
the gutter's deep and r
...more
Julian Meynell
Dec 22, 2015 Julian Meynell rated it really liked it
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 su ...more
Dorottya
Sep 11, 2015 Dorottya rated it really liked it
Shelves: plays
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 ...more
Tom Schulte
Aug 21, 2012 Tom Schulte rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Dan
Sep 16, 2015 Dan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theatre-plays
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 int
...more
Susan
Mar 18, 2011 Susan rated it it was amazing
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
...more
planetkiller
Mar 01, 2011 planetkiller rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of the absurd, play lovers
"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 t
...more
verbava
вічноактуальна така п'єса. зрештою, історії бувають різні, а от люди переважно однакові, тому кожна історія – то в певному сенсі метафора іншої. але оцю конкретну я би зараз вручила кожному, хто живе в радіусі кількох сотень кілометрів.
уже сама назва п'єси варта того, щоб її полюбити, але, як виявилося, в ній і крім назви є багато чудового.
ehk2
I was absolutely stunned when I watched the movie adaptation some years ago. Now, as I read the text, my excitement has been renewed once again. It's a great, thought-provoking play, salvos between Sadean sort of nihilism and revolutionary politics within the context of French Revolution but equally valid universally (in the asylum called history).
David
Dec 22, 2014 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
I just...I just...I can't even...IT'S SO DAMN GOOD JUST READ IT. It operates on multiple levels, a play within a play but not in a self-consciously clever (read: cloying, annoying) way. It's a great translation with a sing-song rhythm, lines that zing, biting commentary. Brilliant!
Alex
Jul 07, 2010 Alex rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best plays that I've read in my life. Peter Weiss is up there with Dario Fo and Friedrich Durrenmatt as playwrights who are underrated or ignored because of the way their works challenge traditional thought. It may be as simple as their political views-- Fo and Weiss are both communists-- or it may be the fact that they challenge traditional beliefs in religious purity ("The Pope and the Witch") or view that science is separate from or beyond morality ("The Physicists"). I'd heard of ...more
Adam
Nov 02, 2008 Adam rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Adam by: Sean Doyle
Shelves: philosophy, plays
This play is absolutely epic. The title says it all, if anyone is curious about what takes place plotwise.
What is more important in the dialogue is the discussions that occur between Jacques Roux, De Sade, Marat, and Corday. This stands as a terrifying reminder that history continues to repeat itself, and asks the question, "are we always completely powerless to stop it?" "Will there always be roles of master/slave, oppressor and oppressed?"

The symbolic significance of each of the characters, i
...more
Mitchell
Dec 13, 2009 Mitchell rated it really liked it
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 impa
...more
Chris Gager
Dec 05, 2011 Chris Gager rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was fun to read and I tried to do it as if I were seeing the play. That worked pretty well. My third political read in a row. Funny and provocative. Seems like we're having the same political divide(s) in this country: individual vs. the collective... rich vs. poor etc. Judy Collins did a collage of the plays songs on one of her earlier albums but I forget which one. I "studied" the French Revolution at two different times in my formal schooling days but don't remember very much. The relentle ...more
Ben
Jul 11, 2008 Ben rated it it was amazing
This play is astounding. I had to read it for a class and I agree with my professor that this is a play that absolutely needs to be read and not just watched. The unbelievably deep arguments between Sade and Marat take place so quickly on stage that there is no way your mind could process it at all quickly enough to understand them. The philosophical battle between nihilism and revolutionary ideals was so well constructed i really do feel that it ends in a complete stalemate. Moreover, there was ...more
Lauringui
Aug 28, 2015 Lauringui rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Creo que funciona como una introducción a la literatura de Sade, al pensamiento, a la forma en la que razona y vuelca en un texto sus mórbidas reflexiones.
Crudo, real y ciertamente muy vigente en la actualidad en muchos aspectos (asusta a veces)
Lo recomiendo.
Leah Angstman
I will never know how I feel about this play for all of my life. I appreciate that it was new and original, but it's ridiculously hard to muster your way through.
Jack Russell
Jun 22, 2014 Jack Russell rated it it was amazing
Shelves:
Brilliant brilliant brilliant. A little hard to follow but re reading is very much worth it. Hope I can see it on stage or maybe even be in it one day.
Kaethe
Jul 16, 2014 Kaethe rated it liked it
Here's a rule of thumb: don't make the title longer than the play itself. Also, keep in mind that two horrible people do not equal one great play.
Kim Lauwers
Aug 18, 2015 Kim Lauwers rated it it was amazing
I had to read this for my theatre class and I remember really loving it. This is actually a play within a play with the occasional orderly and even De Sade himself appearing outside of the play.

After having read about this play on the internet I'm a little disappointed that I only got to read it instead of watching it because they used a lot of music in the performances.

Still, the book itself is also very interesting and diverse and sometimes even a bit strange with De Sade at some point asking
...more
Cody
Dec 01, 2015 Cody rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of the movie Quills, Brechtians
Shelves: plays
I recommend, if you are not well-versed (ha-ha) in the reading of plays, to see this one performed. (There's a recording out there of the original performance by the Royal Shakespeare Company, I believe) This one has a million things going on in it. People shuffling about, music being played, and then you have Marat and Sade. Both luminaries in their own right, Weiss plays out their characters and reflects modern on the struggle. I agree when they compare Weiss to Brecht. I got a similar vibe, s ...more
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Peter Ulrich Weiss (November 8, 1916 – May 10, 1982) was a German writer, painter, and artist of adopted Swedish nationality. He is particularly known for his play Marat/Sade and his novel The Aesthetics of Resistance.

Weiss' first art exhibition took place in 1936. His first produced play was Der Turm in 1950. In 1952 he joined the Swedish Experimental Film Studio, where he made films for several
...more
More about Peter Weiss...

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“Every death even the cruelest death
drowns in the total indifference of Nature
Nature herself would watch unmoved
if we destroyed the entire human race
I hate Nature
this passionless spectator this unbreakable iceberg-face
that can bear everything
this goads us to greater and greater acts”
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“We're all free and equal to die like dogs” 15 likes
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