Dürrenmatt, Friedrich

Dürrenmatt, Friedrich

Dürrenmatt, Friedrich (frēˈdrĭkh dürˈənmät), 1921–90, Swiss playwright and novelist. Dürrenmatt's writings depict a world both comic and grotesque. As a young German-speaking playwright in Switzerland, he was witness to the rise of fascism in neighboring countries but insulated from its direct impact. His plays include the tragic farce Der Besuch der alten Dame (1956, tr. The Visit, 1958), Romulus der Grosse (1949; adapted by Gore Vidal as Romulus, 1962), and the comedy Die Physiker (1962, tr. 1964). His sense of irony is also evident in his novels, which include the detective mystery Der Richter und sein Henker (1952, tr. The Judge and His Hangman, 1954). A volume of his stories, Der Sturz [the collapse] appeared in 1971.


See studies by M. B. Peppard (1969) and A. Arnold (1969, tr. 1972).

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Dürrenmatt, Friedrich


Born Jan. 5, 1921, in Konolfingen, the canton of Bern. Swiss writer, who writes in German. Son of a pastor. Studied philosophy in Zürich and Bern.

Dürrenmatt’s first plays were It Is Written (1947), The Blind Man (1948), and Romulus the Great (1949). He won worldwide fame with the plays The Visit (1956; Russian translation, 1958), The Physicists (1962), and The Anabaptists (1967). Outstanding among his prose works are the collection of stories The City (1952), the novella The Breakdown (1956; Russian translation, 1961), and the novels The Judge and His Executioner (1950-51; Russian translation, 1966) and The Promise (1958; Russian translation, 1966). Using parody and the grotesque to expose the vices of the bourgeois world, Dürrenmatt calls on every person to accept personal moral responsibility. The plays The Physicists and The Visit were staged in Moscow in 1963, 1965, and 1966 and in Leningrad in 1962.


Gesammelte Hörspiele. Zürich, 1961.
In Russian translation:
Komedii. Moscow, 1969.
“Grek ishchet grechanku.” Novyi mir, 1966, no. 9.
“Operatsiia ‘Vega.’” In Biblioteka sovremennoi fantastiki, vol. 5. Moscow, 1966.
“Meteor.” Inostrannaia literatura, 1967, no. 2.


Pavlova, N. S. F. Diurrenmatt. Moscow, 1967.
Brock-Sulzer, E. Dürrenmatt in unserer Zeit. Basel [1968].
Hansel, J. Friedrich Dürrenmatt-Bibliographie. Bad Homburg [1968].


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.