There are also digs at Weiss's profile in general, both as an artist and as a human being. Bengtsson quotes the left-wing Swedish author and poet, who in 1966 (in a book called En orättvis betraktelse) wrote of Peter Weiss and others of his ilk that they were
känsloparasiter, äventyrare, hysteriker, små sökare efter stora ämnen, folkhemsflyktingar, kvantitetsromantiker, sökare efter tillräckligt starka skäl till oproportionerligt starka aggressioner, tomgångsexperimentatorer som griper efter ett engagerat halmstrå, förnyelseegoister, kontaktvägrare som ser en chans att älska på avstånd, Belsenpornografer, godhetsexhibitionister och vanliga kvalterrorister. Därför tycks rätt sakliga litteraturkonventioner av nöden, och sådana bryter också allt starkare fram i Europa. Expressionistiska indignationspjäser ger plats för featurepjäser av typ Rannsakningen.Although it's quite possible to see what Palm is talking about, and to sympathize with some of the characterizations in this portrayal (which Palm himself apparently considered somewhat exaggerated), one also wonders if there was not an element of literary (and ordinary) politics involved in such polemics - a cloud of Vietnam-dust that makes it hard for us now to see what was really going on in the Europe of Weiss's time, with its extreme tension between a posturing, theatrical international political radicalism on the one hand, and a self-satisfied, philistine social and political conservatism on the other.
[emotional parasites, adventurers, hysterics, small seekers of big topics, welfare state refugees, quantity-romantics, seekers of sufficiently strong reasons for disproportionately harsh aggression, experimenters with idleness grasping for a straw of commitment, renewal-egoists, contact-deniers who who see a chance to love from afar, Belsen-pornographers, goodness-exhibitionists and ordinary pain-terrorists. So really factual literary conventions seem to be required, and they are breaking through in Europe with increasing intensity. Expressionistic indignation-drama is giving way to feature plays like The Investigation.]
From a reading of the available biographical sources it seems hard to deny that Peter Weiss did engage in a fairly advanced degree of creative and political opportunism, often tailoring his writing, painting and films to the intellectual fashions and preoccupations of his era - and with a degree of single-minded, humorless obduracy that led at least one contemporary observer to describe him as a "steamroller". Yet, if one can make the right allowances, realizing now that the literary and spiritual gargantuanism that characterizes a work like The Aesthetics of Resistance proceeds not only from the author's personal need (admitted in the course of his own psychoanalysis) to affirm himself as the producer of something "great" and "classical", but also from the intolerable pressures exerted by the political establishments of both West Germany and the DDR, I believe that in some ways it's possible to see Peter Weiss as a victim of his time who nevertheless succeeded in creating work of a high aesthetic quality, work that deserves to be studied and re-examined in the light of more recent history. That there is currently no shortage of such studies is evident from the increasing though little-publicized flow of writing about him. It's to be hoped that the second and third volumes of the Aesthetics will be translated into English and published before long, to complement Joachim Neugroschel's fine translation of volume 1 - this will, I daresay, achieve a great deal more than the website of the International Peter Weiss Society is currently doing.