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A major literary event, the publication of this masterful translation makes one of the towering works of twentieth-century German literature available to English-speaking readers for the first time. The three-volume novel The Aesthetics of Resistance is the magnum opus of Peter Weiss, the internationally renowned dramatist best known for his play Marat/Sade. The first volume, presented here in English, was initially published in Germany in 1975; the third and final volume in 1981, just six months before Weiss's death. Spanning from the late 1930s into World War II, this historical novel dramatizes anti-fascist resistance and the rise and fall of proletariat political parties in Europe. Living in Berlin in 1937, the unnamed narrator and his peers--sixteen and seventeen-year-old working-class students--seek ways to express their hatred for the Nazi regime. They meet in museums and galleries, and in their discussions they explore the affinity between political resistance and art, the connection at the heart of Weiss's novel.
Weiss suggests that meaning lies in the refusal of humans to renounce resistance, no matter how intense the oppression, and that it is in art that new models of political action and social understanding are to be found. The novel includes extended meditations on paintings, sculpture, and literature. Moving from the Berlin underground to the front lines of the Spanish Civil War and on to other parts of Europe, the story teems with characters, almost all of whom based on historical figures. The Aesthetics of Resistance is a masterpiece: one of the truly great works of postwar German literature and an essential resource for understanding twentieth-century German history.
Peter Weiss (1916-1982) was a German playwright, novelist, filmmaker, and painter. His works include the plays Marat/Sade and The New Trial (also published by Duke University Press) and the novels The Shadow of the Body of the Coachman and The Conversation of the Three Walkers. West Germany's most important literary award, the Georg Buchner Prize, was awarded to Weiss posthumously in 1982.Joachim Neugroschel has translated some two hundred books, including works by Franz Kafka, Marcel Proust, and Thomas Mann. He has won three pen translation awards and a French-American Foundation Translation Prize. He lives in Queens, New York.