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The Shadow of the Coachman's Body (Paperback)
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A meticulously observed and macabre tale of hell on earth from the revolutionary German author of the famous play Marat/Sade
Peter Weiss’s first prose work, The Shadow of the Coachman’s Body, was unanimously praised as an original and perfect work of art by critics when it appeared in 1960. Here, in poet Rosmarie Waldrop’s stunning translation, Weiss arranges a dark, vividly alive comedy of inert objects in a dismal boarding house—stones, buttons, hooks, needles, chairs, newspapers in an outhouse, clinking tin cups, celestial orbs, sewing machines, an overwound windup music box—which have oblique characters’ shadows as their supporting cast. Described by Weiss as a “micro-novel,” The Shadow of the Coachman’s Body can be obscene, trivial and brutal, and yet it is also peculiarly intimate and offers endless possibilities—like a telescope and kaleidoscope rolled into one.
About the Author
Peter Weiss (1916–1982) was a German playwright, dramatist, visual artist, filmmaker, and novelist. His works include The Aesthetics of Resistance and The Shadow of the Coachman’s Body. He is best known in the US for his play Marat/Sade: Peter Brook’s production received the Tony Award for Best Play in 1966. His documentary drama The Investigation, which recreates the trial of Auschwitz concentration camp guards, was produced on American television in the 1960s. He was awarded the Georg Büchner Prize after his death in 1982.
Rosmarie Waldrop, born in Germany in 1935, is the author of several books of poetry, fiction, and essays, and a noted translator of French and German poetry. Her most recent books are The Nick of Time, Gap Gardening: Selected Poems (winner of the Los Angeles Book Prize), and Driven to Abstraction. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts of Letters, and is a Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. For fifty-six years, she and her husband Keith Waldrop ran one of the country’s most vibrant experimental poetry presses, Burning Deck, in Providence, Rhode Island.
Staggering ambition! Extraordinary richness.
— Susan Sontag
Exhilaratingly strange, compelling, and original.
Peter Weiss has, of course, achieved international celebrity through his plays and dramatic documentaries. But in the long run it may well be that his earlier prose writings will be recognized as his finest work.
— George Steiner