Max Frisch Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Max Frisch was a versatile writer whose reputation was founded on both his dramas and his novels. He also wrote diaries, radio plays, short stories, film scenarios, and essays. His essays include discussions of literature, drama, society, architecture, town planning, and travel. There is a six-volume German edition of his works up to 1976, published by Suhrkamp in Frankfurt.

Max Frisch Achievements

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

In West Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, Max Frisch’s dramas are consistently among the most frequently performed works by German-language playwrights. They are also regularly performed in other European countries and in the United States. Frisch’s international reputation was established in 1954 with the publication of the novel Stiller (I’m Not Stiller, 1958), which is still considered his most important work. In 1951, Frisch received a Rockefeller grant to study in the United States. He was awarded numerous prizes for his works. These include the Georg Büchner Prize, the literature prize of the city of Zurich in 1958, and the prize of the city of Jerusalem and the Schiller Prize in 1965. His works have been translated into most European languages and are often best-sellers.

Max Frisch Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Max Frisch was a versatile writer whose reputation stemmed from both his dramas and his novels. He also wrote diaries, radio plays, short stories, film scenarios, and essays. His essays include discussions of literature, drama, society, architecture, town planning, and travel. A six-volume German edition of his works up to 1976 was published by Suhrkamp in Frankfurt, and an English-language collection titled Novels, Plays, Essays was published in 1989.

Frisch’s drama and his fiction are closely related thematically. In most of his plays, the quest for identity is the central theme. In his work, Frisch is critical of the roles that people adopt for themselves or have imposed on them by others because role-playing prevents people from growing and realizing their potential as human beings. This concern of Frisch’s is particularly evident in the plays Andorra (pr., pb. 1961; English translation, 1963) and Don Juan: Oder, Die Liebe zur Geometrie (pr., pb. 1953; Don Juan: Or, The Love of Geometry, 1967). As in his fiction, Frisch shows in his theater pieces how difficult it is to escape from such roles: However hard hisprotagonists try, they fail in their attempts to escape because the social restrictions they face are so overwhelming.

Frisch believed that dramatists have a responsibility to address social and political questions; although he was skeptical that the theater can bring about social change, he asserted that it can at least make people more aware. Although most of his plays focus on personal questions, some directly address such social problems as anti-Semitism and prejudice (Andorra) and the moral weakness of the middle class (Biedermann und die Brandstifter, pr., pb. 1958; The Firebugs, 1959; also known as The Fire Raisers, 1962). In both his plays and his novels, Frisch sharply criticizes modern society for its hypocrisy, its smugness, and its superficiality—but most of all for the limits it places on the individual.

Max Frisch Achievements

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Max Frisch’s international reputation was established in 1954 with the publication of I’m Not Stiller, which is still considered his most important work. In 1951, Frisch received a Rockefeller grant to study in the United States. He was awarded numerous honors for his works. These include the Georg Büchner Prize and the Zurich Prize in 1958, the Jerusalem Prize and the Schiller Prize in 1965, the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade in 1976, and the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 1986. In 1989, he was the recipient of the Heinrich Heine Prize, which is an award presented to persons whose works advance social and political progress and promote mutual understanding among peoples.

Frisch’s plays have been performed regularly in Europe and the United States. In Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, they have been among the most frequently performed dramas by German-language playwrights. His works have been translated into most European languages, and several have been best sellers.

Max Frisch Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

What are some of the targets of Max Frisch’s satire?

How does Frisch treat the theme of racism?

What is Frisch saying about the permanence or mutability of human identity?

How does Frisch counteract the theater of illusion in his plays?

What is the role of travel in Frisch’s novels?

Max Frisch Bibliography

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Butler, Michael. The Novels of Max Frisch. London: O. Wolff, 1976. Provides a readable account (through Montauk) of Frisch’s novels.

Butler, Michael. The Plays of Max Frisch. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1985. Provides criticism and interpretations of Frisch’s works up to the mid-1980’s. Index and bibliography.

Demetz, Peter. “Max Frisch: The Last Romantic.” After the Fires: Recent Writing in the Germanies, Austria, and Switzerland. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1986. Demetz provides a separate chapter on Frisch within the context of contemporary German-language literature. His broad overview dictates a focus on essentials and high points; an excellent introduction and orientation to major aspects of Frisch’s career and life.

Ivask, Ivar, ed. World Literature Today 60 (Autumn, 1986). A special issue dedicated to Frisch on the occasion of his receipt of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature. Includes short texts by Frisch, an introduction by the editor, a chronology, a selected bibliography, and commissioned articles in English by Swiss, American, British, and Canadian scholars on various aspects of his work, as well as several photographs and illustrations.

Köpke, Wulf. Understanding Max Frisch. Columbia: University of South...

(The entire section is 453 words.)