The Swiss writer Friedrich Durrenmatt (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, Durrenmatt becomes available again in all his brilliance to the English-speaking world.
Durrenmatt's essays, gathered in this third volume of "Selected "Writings, are among his most impressive achievements. Their range alone is astonishing: he wrote with authority and charm about art, literature, philosophy, politics, and the theater. The selections here include Durrenmatt's best-known essays, such as "Theater Problems" and "Monster Essay on Justice and Law," as well as the notes he took on a 1970 journey in America (in which he finds the United States "increasingly susceptible to every kind of fascism"). This third volume of "Selected Writings "also includes essays that shade into fiction, such as "The Winter War in Tibet," a fantasy of a third world war waged in a vast subterranean labyrinth--a Plato's Cave allegory rewritten for our own troubled times.
Durrenmatt 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.
Friedrich Durrenmatt was born in 1921 in the village of Konolfingen, near Berne, Switzerland, and was the son of a Protestant minister. During World War II he studied philosophy and literature at the Universities of Berne and Zurich. He wrote prolifically and traveled widely in the 1950s, '60s, and '70s, taking particular interest in human rights and the preservation of Israel. Joel Agee has translated numerous German authors into English, including Heinrich von Kleist, Rainer Maria Rilke and Elias Canetti. He is also the author of two memoirs: "Twelve Years: An American Boyhood in East Germany" and "In the House of My Fear." In 2005 he received the Modern Language Association's Lois Roth Award for his translation of Hans Erich Nossack's "The End: "" Hamburg "" 1943 " . Kenneth J. Northcott is professor emeritus of German at the University of Chicago. He has translated a number of books for the University of Chicago Press. Theodore Ziolkowski is the Class of 1900 Professor Emeritus of German and Comparative Literature at Princeton University. He is the author of many books, including "The Mirror of Justice: Literary Reflections of Legal Crises." Brian Evenson is the author of numerous works of fiction, including "Altmann's Tongue," "Dark Property," "Father of Lies," and "The Wavering Knife." He is also director of the Literary Arts Program at Brown University.