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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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

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  2,521 ratings  ·  69 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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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
Julia Boechat Machado
O que é uma banheira de sangue
perto do sangue que ainda há de correr
Um dia pensamos que algumas centenas de mortos seriam o bastate
depois vimos que mesmo milhares eram insuficientes
E hoje não podem mais ser contados
ali e em todo lugar
em todo lugar
Ouço o clamor dentro de mim
Eu sou a Revolução."
Olhai-os Marat
olhai os antigos donos de todos os bens do mundo
como transformaram em triunfo a sua queda
Agora que lhes roubaram todos os prazeres
O cadafalso guarda-os de tédio i...more
Anna Cain
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
Erik Graff
Aug 12, 2014 Erik Graff rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
Joseph Nicolello
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
Dorottya Bacsi
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
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!
London 2001
Tom Schulte
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
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
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
Mar 01, 2011 planetkiller rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
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.
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
Nov 02, 2008 Adam rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
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
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
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
Jack Russell
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.
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.
Karlo Mikhail
A tragedy. A farce. A play within a play. A ferocious debate between Revolution and Reaction. Between collective upheaval and the micro politics of bodies. Between radical critique and aristocratic playfulness. Stunningly straightforward. But also full of ironic complexities. An agitational masterpiece.
Violet Rose
I absolutely love this play. It's a classic. Such flawless writing. Perfect.
I just got some informations about Kaufman and The Laramie Project from our friend Amy in Drama and Theatre group, and it reminds me Peter Wiess, the German-Check-Swiss-Swede playwright. I don't know what his theatre form is called, kind of interview-documentary performance which is based on the real story...
as far as I can remember I enjoyed his plays a lot. Reading "The Persecution and Assassination ..." was a big thoughtful joy I had at the begining of 1970's ... one should be interested in...more
Cheryl Klein
I'd long heard about this play -- a hissing and a scandal when it opened in the 1960s -- but never read it, so when the opportunity arose, I did. I am glad to know more about Marat, Sade, and French revolutionary history, and the stage pictures it presents are incredible (and in their own time, groundbreaking) in their grotesquerie; but it's not really what you'd call a good time.

Also, this translation was written in rhyme, and the rhyme just read awkwardly to me throughout. Maybe it's better i...more
I was in a production of this in college. I had a very minor, non-speaking role - and it's still the one play I want to go back and do again! Even to play the same non-speaking character.

There was a professor on campus who had seen 13 productions of this play, including the original German production and the legendary English-language production by Peter Brook.

He said ours was one of the best he'd seen - easily in his Top 3. I can't honestly provide any kind of objective critique of this play -...more
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.
Not so much a review as a reminiscence of playing the part of Jacques Roux, 'former priest and radical socialist', in a workshop production at my old school when I was 19.

One heck of an experience for all of us...and the one and only time when I have experienced possessing total power and control over a large group of people - it was an alarmingly unpleasant sensation of complete dominance...

Happy days! :)

Lorma Doone
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.
Electric Funeral
Ein Text der Anforderungen stellt. Ein Stück dass auf mindestens drei Ebenen funktioniert. Theater als Theater, wie das der Kommentar formuliert, in der Tradition Brechts. Eine unglaublich sprachmächtige Kontextualisierung zentraler Fragen der Revolution. Linkes Theater vor 1989, ein Kaninchenbau bürgerlicher Bildung und politischer Querverweise: deshalb auch gleich mit sehr erhellendem Kommentar.
Watched the film with Glenda Jackson on YouTube. I have read this before but I was much younger and thought revolution might be a good idea. Today I am struck by the obvious - people have always disliked unfairness. Even the most common man once given power seems to totally forget this so there is always some amount of discontent waiting like a virus to get the signal and invade the greater body.
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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...
The Investigation The Aesthetics of Resistance, Vol. 1 Marat-Sade/The Investigation/The Shadow of the Body of the Coachman Abschied von den Eltern Die Ästhetik des Widerstands (The Aesthetics of Resistance, #1-3)

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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”
“We're all free and equal to die like dogs” 11 likes
More quotes…