Frisch, Max

Frisch, Max,

1911–91, Swiss writer. He obtained a diploma in architecture in 1941, and his designs included the Zürich Recreation Park. After 1955 he became recognized as one of Europe's major literary voices. In the novels Stiller (1954, tr. I'm Not Stiller, 1958), Homo faber (1957, tr. 1959), and Mein Name sei Gantenbein (1964, tr. A Wilderness of Mirrors, 1965), Frisch was essentially concerned with the human search for personal identity. His best-known plays are Biedermann und die Brandstifter (1953, tr. The Firebugs, 1963), and Andorra (1961, tr. 1962), a study of mass psychology.


See his autobiographical Montauk (1975; tr. 1976, repr. 2016), his Sketchbook 1946–1949 (1965; tr. 1977), Sketchbook 1966–1971 (1972; tr. 1974), and Drafts for a Third Sketchbook (2010, ed. by P. von Matt; tr. 2013); biographies by U. W. Weisstein (1967) and C. Petersen (tr. 1972); studies by M. Butler (1983) and W. Koepke (1990).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Frisch, Max


Born May 15, 1911, in Zürich. Swiss novelist and dramatist writing in German.

Frisch studied philology and architecture. Most of his works focus on the problem of identity—man’s rejection of the role assigned to him by bourgeois society—as well as on man’s search for his inmost essence. In the plays Mr. Biedermann and the Arsonist (staged 1958; Russian translation, 1965) and Andorra (1961), Frisch attacked apolitical philistinism, which easily gives way to mass psychosis and racial prejudice. The heroes of Frisch’s prose works overcome mental depression after undergoing inner torments, and subsequently embark on a quest for moral and spiritual values. Such heroes include the sculptor in the novel Stiller (1959; Russian translation, 1972) and the technocrat in the novel Homo Faber (1957; Russian translation, 1967). In contrast to these figures is the hero of the novel A Wilderness of Mirrors (1964; Russian translation, 1975), who, even while functioning in different roles, always remains a cowardly philistine.

Although Frisch’s work is marked by a sharply critical attitude, Frisch does not completely overcome the principle of the artist’s noninvolvement in the social struggle.


Gesammelte Werke, vols. 1–6. Frankfurt am Main, 1976.
In Russian translation:
P’esy. [Afterword by Iu. Arkhipov.] Moscow, 1970.


Zatonskii, D. Iskusstvo romana i XX vek. Moscow, 1973.
Lembrikova, B. “Maks Frish—kritik sovremennosti.” Voprosy literatury, 1967, no. 6.
Über Max Frisch. [Frankfurt am Main, 1971.]


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