Published in three volumes, Peter Weiss’s historical novel The Aesthetics of Resistance covers the time period from the late 1930s to World War II. The story centers on a group of working-class students in Berlin in 1937 who are seeking ways to resist the Nazi regime. The novel explores the connection between political resistance and art, with the narrator and his peers discussing their views in museums and galleries. Weiss suggests that meaning and purpose can be found through resistance, no matter how oppressive the situation and that art can provide new models for political action and social understanding. The novel includes an in-depth analysis of paintings, sculptures, and literature, and features a cast of characters based on historical figures, following the story from the Berlin underground to the front lines of the Spanish Civil War and beyond.
The Aesthetics of Resistance is considered one of the great works of postwar German literature and a valuable resource for understanding 20th-century German history.