The Investigation: Oratorio in 11 Cantos

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M. Boyars, 1966 - Drama - 206 pages
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The Investigation is a dramatic reconstruction of the Frankfurt War Crimes trials, based on the actual evidence given. This testimony, concerning Auschwitz and the atrocities which were enacted there, has been edited and extracted by Peter Weiss into a dramatic document that relies solely and completely on the facts for its effectiveness.

There is no artistic license, no manipulation of facts and figures, no rearrangement of events for theatrical effect. Nameless witnesses stand and recall their appalling memories of Auschwitz, allowing us to bear witness to their painful and painstaking search for truth and, ultimately, justice. What emerges is a chastening and purging documentary of deeply moving power.

Peter Weiss was born in 1916 and settled in Sweden before the outbreak of World War II. Apart from his writing, he was also well known as a painter, theatrical and operatic director, and a film maker. His magnificent play Marat/Sade, which is also available from Marion Boyars Publishers, established his reputation among English-speakling audiences as a revolutionary dramatist, and has continued to be a bestselling classic. He died in 1982.

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About the author (1966)

In December 1965 Peter Weiss's Marat/Sade (1964), in a presentation by Britain's Royal Shakespeare Company, stormed the Broadway stage, captivating audience and critic alike. The assumption that the play about the murder of Marat by Charlotte Corday might have been one of the many dramatic pieces written by Sade---and enacted by his fellow inmates for "therapeutic" reasons during the Marquis's confinement at Charenton---provided Weiss (who maintained that "every word I put down is political") with his framework for the "confrontation of the revolutionary Marat as the apostle of social improvement and the cynical individualist, the Marquis de Sade" (N.Y. Times). The Investigation (1965), which Weiss considered his best play, was first presented in 20 theaters in East and West Germany; Ingmar Bergman (see Vol. 3) was its Swedish director. It was staged in New York in 1966. Taken almost entirely from the actual proceedings of the 1965 Frankfurt War Crimes Tribunal on Auschwitz, The Investigation is a "harrowing but insistently commanding experience" (Walter Kerr, N.Y. Times). The audience, in effect, reenacts the role of the original courtroom spectators in this shattering, true account of man's depravity. Weiss received the Buchner Prize in 1982.

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