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The Fever

4.16  ·  Rating Details ·  303 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
Winner of the 1991 Obie Award for Best Play and soon to be a film starring Vanessa Redgrave, The Fever has been called “a starkly written, harrowing journey into [the] dark night of the soul that is as searing on the page as it is on the stage” (Booklist). While visiting a poverty-stricken country far from home, the unnamed narrator of The Fever is forced to witness the po ...more
Paperback, 80 pages
Published January 27th 2004 by Grove Press (first published January 1st 1991)
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Jul 15, 2008 Catherine rated it it was amazing
This book confirms everything that you secretly already knew but tried not to think about or had forgotten to think about or had explained away. Also, I saw Wallace Shawn perform this a year or so ago and they had champagne before the performance and he mingled with the crowd, which of course was done strategically so that everyone would feel really bourgeois and devastated after the show. The best part was when, when everyone was leaving at the end of the show, an audience member turned to his ...more
Sep 08, 2012 Dana rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
This is definitely something i'd read over again, which, if you think about it, doesn't happen too often. I generally only reread my all time favorite books, as i'm sure others only do as well. This was a very short work meant to be read out loud to an audience of ten or twelve people. My copy was 68 pages in length, but what it said was pretty incredible.
It was about a man who had w wonderful childhood, who always lived in happiness in an upper-middle class lifestyle. I'm sure this is how a ma
Jan 03, 2014 Amanda rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This was an incredibly fast read for me. I have never been able to read books in a day, but I finished this one in a matter of an hour or two yesturday, it is only 68 pages. This book was an eye opener for sure. It has no chapters, no charaters, no dialouge. It is just 68 pages of continual string of thoughts and 68 pages is the pefect length for that. The narrator talks of how great his life has been and how life should be celebrated and how grand it all is. However, he later discovers that the ...more
Sep 17, 2014 Drew rated it it was amazing
Shelves: drama
Wallace Shawn is cold. Wallace Shawn is hilarious. Wallace Shawn is the greatest living critic of the middle and upper classes. Wallace Shawn is unconcerned with conventional dramatic structure. Wallace Shawn rambles with intent. Wallace Shawn wants to make you feel like crap and laugh at the same time. You will do both because Wallace Shawn is a master. This isn't really a play. This is only Wallace Shawn but Wallace Shawn is all. And in a weird way when you read this, you too are Wallace Shawn ...more
Dec 09, 2009 Kit rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recentlyread
one of the best things i've read in a long, long time. praise jesus for wallace shawn.
Jul 05, 2015 Ron rated it really liked it
An excruciating monologue that confronts some very basic issues: why is there inequality in the world; why are some people happy and sheltered, and others miserable, homeless and oppressed by government; and, once we accept that such is the reality, how can anyone who claims to be a moral person be complacent about their position in the world?
One of the most disturbing little books I have encountered in a while. How can Shawn be such an amusing actor, and such an incisive and uncompromising writ
Anirudh Karnick
Apr 24, 2013 Anirudh Karnick rated it it was ok
I read the play because of this excerpt that Edmond Caldwell quoted:

" No, I'm trying to tell you that people hate you. I'm trying to explain to you about the people who hate you.

Why do you think that they all love you? And what do you think they would love about you? What are you? There's no charm in you, there's nothing graceful, nothing that yields. You're simply a relentless, unbearable fanatic. Yes, the commando who crawls all night through the mud is much less of a fanatic than you. Look at
Apr 14, 2013 Peter rated it it was amazing
A good monologue, though it finishes up with a coda that is extremely on the nose. The piece has something of a mathematical feel, building to a very precise definition of sentiments that seems a tad unnecessary in light of the reasoning already expressed. It's woven into the play's fabric well, but might be redundant.

The piece seethes with a palpable rage. Again, the ending seems to make things simple; it leaves the nameless upper-class New Yorker admitting the truth that his/her lifestyle is b
While the narrator, a reasonably wealthy woman, finds herself extremely sick in another country away from her usual comforts many people take for granted (steady electricity, clean water, easy access to medical care), she begins to take stock in her life--what would be said about her if she died? What had she really done with her life? It was when she returned home that she began to think about where the goods we purchase are made, the conditions they are made under, and the state of affairs of ...more
Dec 02, 2014 César rated it it was amazing
Lo hace sentir vergüenza a uno, vergüenza de estar vivo y ser humano y poder tener tiempo para leer y, aún así, intentar tener buena conciencia, lo cual es ridículo.

«For two days I could see the fetishism of commodities everywhere around me. It was a strange feeling. Then on the third day I lost it, it was gone, I couldn't see it anymore»
Simon Sweetman
Sep 21, 2015 Simon Sweetman rated it really liked it
A good thing to read for me right now as one of my preoccupations is the cuntiness of white people and our stake as world-owners. And the entitlement and puzzling optimism of travelers so clueless at times. Would be amazing to see this performed by Shawn himself I imagine.
Dec 29, 2010 Jon rated it really liked it
I had to read through the first half of this monologue/dramatic essay twice before I was able to finish...but the perseverance paid off. This essay, which kind of reminded (in tone and style only) of Virginia Woolf's Room With a View, decries the complacency of people (especially wealthy people) who turn a blind eye to the suffering in the world. I think it helps to know that Shawn intended this monologue to be given to small groups of 10-12 at dinners and parties--realizing that gave the play m ...more
Dec 29, 2012 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays
Devastatingly original and unsettlingly honest meditation on the morality of sympathy. Being quite familiar with Wallace Shawn's distinctive cadence, I read the piece first in his voice, then again in my own. It works both as a full-length monologue and as a piece of prose. Beautiful, disturbing and upsetting. Perfect and imperfect as anything could ever be.
Aug 02, 2009 Peter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wallace Shawn son of the famous New Yorker Editor is a marvelous actor and a veryu talented writer who does too little writing. This monologue is a marvelous personal account of confronting the vagaries and indisputable inequities of a world too riven by injustice and economic disparity. It is a well written thought provoking meditation.
Jose Palafox
Sep 12, 2009 Jose Palafox rated it really liked it
A great read, in one sitting.

I used this short play in one of my courses to engage with Marx's analysis and discussion of commodity fetishism in Volume One of Capital.

It worked.

I highly recommend the film--with the same title--directed by Carlo Gabriel Nero (DVD, 2007, 83 min) that is based on this book.
Jamie Berger
Sep 23, 2007 Jamie Berger rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Everyone born to privilege should read this book. Heck, everyone should read this book. Twice. At least. It's 60 pages long. Read this book. If you buy this book and don't think it was worth buying, I'll buy it from you. Really. Am I making myself clear here? This is a great book. Description doesn't do it justice.
Dec 08, 2012 Tucker rated it really liked it
Found this by accident when I ducked into a "revolutionary" political bookstore in Manhattan to get out of the cold for an hour. It's a short monologue that was meant to be performed aloud. It succeeds in delivering a series of complex ideas about social inequity in an informal, engaging way.
James Payne
Dec 19, 2013 James Payne rated it really liked it
Shelves: plays
I read this twice, back and forth, over the course of two nights when I was very tired. I think I still need to read it again. About privilege and limousine liberal white guilt. Some of it is more or less cliche, some of it was really well-felt, well written.
Feb 13, 2013 Chris rated it really liked it
A short, profound essay(?) on the meaning, consequence, and guilt of poverty and suffering. The type of work to make the reader question their own relationship to the world around them. Definitely, highly recommended.
3.5 stars.

Note: I read this book for Book Riot's 2016 Read Harder challenge. I'm counting it toward the task to read a play as well as the task to read a book of less than 100 pages.
Mar 22, 2011 Branden rated it it was amazing
UGH WALLACE SHAWN IS SO AMAZING. i can't believe he actually pulls off what he manages to pull of in this play. literally one of the best--if not the best--monologue plays of all time.
John Ellis
Sep 13, 2012 John Ellis rated it really liked it
Most people know Wallace Shawn as the "Inconceivable" guy from The Princess Bride. I know Wallace Shawn as a leader in contemporary experimental theatre.

This is a great play.
Jeremy Sabol
Dec 15, 2007 Jeremy Sabol rated it it was amazing
whooey this was a tough one - short, easy to read, in the "turn the pages" sense, tough to read in the "this book is targeting me" sense
Feb 18, 2009 Mykle rated it it was amazing
Still waiting for Matthew and Michael to put on a live performance of this brilliant monologue-in-book-form about global complicity.
Gregory Knapp
Jul 05, 2013 Gregory Knapp rated it it was amazing
Shelves: plays
Brutal and amazing.

If possible, read it while you are traveling outside the States.

But that's far from a condition. Just read it.
May 29, 2011 Martyn rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those who know the score, those who would like to know the score.
Powerful, powerful story. It's amazing that anybody could produce something so raw and so real - truly affecting.
Isaac Timm
Aug 20, 2010 Isaac Timm rated it it was ok
Shelves: plays, 2010
I don't really see how this could be a performance piece. It was easy to read, but I don't know really how to rate it
Aug 30, 2010 David rated it it was amazing
I watched Wallace perform this monologue at the University of Utah. He recited it word-for-word. Amazing.
Feb 11, 2015 Destiny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Read this in a hour. Absolutely thought provoking and making me want to read it again. Truly eye-opening.
Ben Morrison
Mar 26, 2007 Ben Morrison rated it liked it
Not as good as "The Designated Mourner" though it won some sort of prize. Check it out.
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Wallace Shawn, sometimes credited as Wally Shawn, is an American actor and playwright. Regularly seen on film and television, where he is usually cast as a comic character actor, he has pursued a parallel career as a playwright whose work is often dark, politically charged and controversial. He is widely known for his high-pitched nasal voice and slight lisp.
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“. . . Yes, I’m an aesthete. I like beauty.
Yes – poor countries are beautiful. Poor people are beautiful. It’s a wonderful feeling to have money in a country where most people are poor, to ride in a taxi through horrible slums.
Yes – a beggar can be beautiful. A beggar can have beautiful lips, beautiful eyes. You’re far from home. To you, her simple shawl seems elegant, direct, the right way to dress. You see her approaching from a great distance. She’s old, thin, and yes, she looks sick, very sick, near death. But her face is beautiful – seductive, luminous. You like her – you’re drawn to her. Yes, you think – there’s money in your purse – you’ll give her some of it.
And a voice says – Why not all of it? Why not give her all you have?
Be careful, that’s a question that could poison your life. Your love of beauty could actually kill you.
If you hear that question, it means you’re sick. You’re mentally sick. You’ve had a breakdown.”
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