Max Frisch

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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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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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Hence, Swiss playwright and novelist Max Frisch insightfully quipped, "we wanted workers, but we got people instead." As Borjas notes, "One underlying theme of this book is that viewing immigrants as purely a collection of labor inputs leads to a very misleading appraisal of what immigration is about, and gives an incomplete picture of the economic impact of immigration."
As brilliant Swiss writer Max Frisch once said about the Turkish guest workers in Germany, "We wanted a labor force, but human beings came." It is important to remember that none of these people wanted to leave all their belongings -- indeed their lives -- behind to live the lives of refugees in another country.
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Beyond that, Dyer recalls Max Frisch and his writings on postwar Europe in 1946, "a forest might creep over our cities, slowly, inexorably thriving unaided by human hands, a silence of thistles and moss," and describes the Chernobyl zone, which, since "unaided by human hands" has flourished with species not seen in centuries, like the lynx, wild boar, and the Eurasian brown bear.
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Friedrich Durrenmatt and Max Frisch. Correspondence.