Peter Weiss

Peter Weiss (1916-1982) was a novelist, painter, film director and dramatist. Fleeing Nazi persecution in his native Germany in 1934, he became a Swedish citizen. His experimental prose (The Shadow of the Coachman's Body) and autobiographical novels (The Leavetaking) attracted attention from the German literati, but world-wide success did not come until the 1964 production of his play The Assassination and Persecution of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade (Marat/Sade). Following this Tony-award winning smash, a new play, The Investigation, dealing with the Auschwitz trials met with success on both sides of the Atlantic, winning a Tony Award in 1966. The press heralded him as the "new Brecht,"and his work grew increasingly Marxist with Trotsky in Exile, The Vietnam Discourse, and Hölderlin. His politics made him unpopular, however, and though he won the Büchner Prize, the Bremen Literature Prize, the De Nios Prize and the Swedish Theatre Critics Prize (all in 1982), his works were rarely performed outside Germany.