Peter Weiss


(German title: Abschied von den Eltern)
ca. 173 pages
Peter Weiss
Foto: Peter Weiss
© Andrej Reiser

Peter Weiss (1916–1982) was a German writer, painter, graphic artist, and experimental filmmaker. He is best known for his plays “Marat/Sade” and “The Investigation,” as well as the monumental three-volume historical novel The Aesthetics of Resistance. Born in Germany in 1916, he began his career as visual artist, studying at the Prague Art Academy in the late ’30s. After the German occupation of the Sudetenland, his family moved to Sweden, where Weiss would spend the rest of his life, becoming a Swedish citizen. His work won many major German literary awards, including the Buchner and Mann Prizes, and Peter Brook’s production of “Marat/Sade” received the Tony Award for Best Play. Weiss died in 1982.

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English world rights (Melville House Books), Spanish world rights (Alpha Decay), France (Seuil – published, rights reverted), Netherlands (Meulenhoff – published, rights reverted), Denmark (Niels Bings – published, rights reverted), Sweden (Bonniers), Finnland (Otava – published, rights reverted), Japan (Kawade Shobo – published, rights reverted), Poland (PIW – published, rights reverted), Slovakia (Slovensky Spisovatel – published, rights reverted), Serbocroatian world rights (RAD – published, rights reverted), Israel (Am Oved – published, rights reverted)

Domestic Rights Sales: German Audiobook (DAV)

»I was on my way to look for a life of my own.«


A brilliant, brutally honest autobiographical novel, from one of the great artistic polymaths of the 20th century.

This is a Sebaldian account of the narrator’s attempt to break free of a repressive upper-middle-class upbringing and make his way as an artist and individual, written in a single incantatory paragraph.

Leavetaking is the story of an upper-middle-class childhood and adolescence in Berlin between the wars. In the course of the book, Weiss plumbs the depths of family life: there is the early death of his beloved sister Margit, the difficult relationship with his parents, the fantasies of adolescence and youth, all set in the midst of an increasing anti-Semitism, which forces the Weiss family to move again and again, a peripatetic existence that only intensifies the narrator’s growing restlessness.

The young narrator is largely oblivious to world events and focused instead on becoming an artist, an ambition frustrated generally by his milieu and specifically by his mother, who, herself a former actress, destroys his paintings during one of the family’s moves. In the end, he turns to an older mentor, Harry Haller, a fictionalized portrait of Hermann Hesse, who encouraged and supported Weiss, and with Haller’s example before him, the narrator takes his first steps towards a truly independent life. Intensely lyrical, written with great imaginative power, Leavetaking is a vivid evocation of a world that has disappeared and of the narrator’s developing consciousness. (book description from the US edition by Melville House Books)


Selected Foreign Editions


English edition released by Melville House Books >>


»A dynamic work, a re-creation and exorcism of the past rather than a recollection of it in tranquility […] Wholly succeeds in fusing a new realism with a new imaginative vision.« Times Literary Supplement

»[The US edition with Melville] is the most under-covered, undervalued release of 2014. Weiss is one of the four or five greatest post-war European authors, and this autofictional masterpiece more or less superannuates all of the autofiction that follows. A brutally honest account of bourgeois decay, artistic development – Weiss was a polymath who painted, filmed, and wrote in virtually every form – and sexual maturation […] « Flavorwire, 50 Best Independent Fiction and Poetry Books of 2014

Other publications

Die Ästhetik des Widerstands/The Aesthetics of Resistance (1981)

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English world rights (Duke UP), Spanish world rights (Hiru), Chinese simplex rights (Henan UP), France (Klincksieck), Italy (Lavieri), Netherlands (Historische Uitgeverij – published, rights reverted), Denmark (Rosinante – published, rights reverted), Sweden (Bonniers), Norway (Pax – published, rights reverted), Korea (Moonji), Turkey (Yapi Kredi)

Die Verfolgung und Ermordung Jean Paul Marats dargestellt durch die Schauspielgruppe des Hospizes zu Charenton unter Anleitung des Herrn de Sade/The Persecution and Assassination of Jean Paul Marat (1968)

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USA (Dramatic Publishing), UK (Marion Boyars), Spanish world rights (Adriana Hidalgo), Catalan rights (Institut del Teatre - published, rights reverted), Brazilian Portuguese rights (Peixoto - published, rights reverted), France (L’Arche), Italy (Einaudi), Netherlands (Meulenhoff - published, rights reverted), Denmark (Niels Bings Forlag - published, rights reverted), Sweden (Bo Cafevors - published, rights reverted), Norway (Gyldendal Norsk - published, rights reverted), Finnland (Otava - published, rights reverted), Korea (Sung Kyun Kwan UP - published, rights reverted), Japan (Hakusuisha), Czech Republic (Artur), Slovakia (Slovenske Krasnej Literatury - published, rights reverted), Hungary (Hollo Es Tarsa - published, rights reverted), Turkey (Imge), Albania (K & B), Georgia (Ilia State UP)

Die Ermittlung/The Investigation (1965)

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USA (Dramatic Publishing), UK (Marion Boyars), Spanish world rights (Grijalbo - published, rights reverted), France (L’Arche Editeur), Italy (Einaudi), Netherlands (Meulenhoff - published, rights reverted), Denmark (Niels Bings Forlag - published, rights reverted), Sweden (Bo Cavefors - published, rights reverted), Norway (Pax - published, rights reverted), Korea (Hankook Munhwasa - published, rights reverted), Japan (Hakusuisha - published, rights reverted), Czech Republic (Orbis - published, rights reverted), Hungary (Europa - published, rights reverted), Romania (Paralela 45 - published, rights reverted), Slovenia (Rilindja- Pristina - published, rights reverted), Turkey (Sinan - published, rights reverted)