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Friedrich Dürrenmatt: Selected Writings, Volume I, Plays
by Friedrich Dürrenmatt
translated by Joel Agee
edited by Kenneth J. Northcott
University of Chicago Press, 2006
eISBN: 978-0-226-53104-5 | Cloth: 978-0-226-17426-6
Library of Congress Classification PT2607.U493A6 2006
Dewey Decimal Classification 832.914

ABOUT THIS BOOK | AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY | REVIEWS | TOC | REQUEST ACCESSIBLE FILE
ABOUT THIS BOOK

The Swiss writer Friedrich Dürrenmatt (1921–90) was one of the most important literary figures of the second half of the twentieth century. During the years of the cold war, arguably only Beckett, Camus, Sartre, and Brecht rivaled him as a presence in European letters. Yet outside Europe, this prolific author is primarily known for only one work, The Visit. With these long-awaited translations of his plays, fictions, and essays, Dürrenmatt becomes available again in all his brilliance to the English-speaking world.

Dürrenmatt’s concerns are timeless, but they are also the product of his Swiss vantage during the cold war: his key plays, gathered in the first volume of Selected Writings, explore such themes as guilt by passivity, the refusal of responsibility, greed and political decay, and the tension between justice and freedom. In The Visit, for instance, an old lady who becomes the wealthiest person in the world returns to the village that cast her out as a young woman and offers riches to the town in exchange for the life of the man, now its mayor, who once disgraced her. Joel Agee’s crystalline translation gives a fresh lease to this play, as well as four others: The Physicists, Romulus the Great, Hercules and the Augean Stables, and The Marriage of Mr. Mississippi.

Dürrenmatt has long been considered a great writer—but one unfairly neglected in the modern world of letters. With these elegantly conceived and expertly translated volumes, a new generation of readers will rediscover his greatest works.


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