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Friedrich Dürrenmatt (1921-1990)
German-Swiss Writer and Playwright

"Ich bin kein Dorfschriftsteller, aber das Dorf brachte mich hervor." - F. Dürrenmatt

Bio - Lebenslauf
Friedrich Dürrenmatt, the German-Swiss playwright, novelist, and essayist, was born on 5 January 1921 in Konolfingen, Switzerland. The son of a Protestant minister, he came to writing naturally. His grandfather was a well-known Swiss politician, satirist, and poet who encouraged his grandson in his writing career. Dürrenmatt wrote, “My grandfather was once sent to prison for ten days because of a poem he wrote. I haven't been honored in that way yet.” The young Dürrenmatt was a reluctant student at the University of Bern where he preferred writing, drawing, and painting over his studies in literature, theology, philosophy, and science. But it was there that he developed his interest in drama and writing plays. After 1952 he lived in Neuchâtel. In 1956, at the age of 35, Dürrenmatt gained international recognition with the appearance of his parable drama “Der Besuch der alten Dame” (“The Visit”). Some critics compare his dark comedy to the similarly distorted world of Franz Kafka, but with more of a comedic touch. Dürrenmatt's most prevalent symbolism is that of the labyrinth and the struggle of the individual for freedom and justice. He also wrote some very good Krimis or crime stories, including Der Richter und sein Henker (1950). Several of Dürrenmatt's works have been filmed in German or English: “Die Ehe des Herrn Mississippi,” “Der Richter und sein Henker” (1957), “The Visit” (1964, with Ingrid Bergman and Anthony Quinn) and “Grieche sucht Griechin.” His many awards include: Preis der Welti-Stiftung (1948), Der Große Preis der Schweizerischen Schillerstiftung (1960), the Austrian State Prize for European Literature (1983-86), the Schiller Memorial Prize, and the Büchner Prize. Dürrenmatt's works include:

  • Romulus der Große / Romulus the Great (1949, drama)
  • Der Richter und sein Henker / The Judge and His Executioner (1950, crime novel)
  • Der Verdacht / Suspicion (1951, crime novel)
  • Die Ehe des Herrn Mississippi / The Marriage of Mr. Mississippi (1952, play)
  • Grieche sucht Griechin / Greek Man Seeks Greek Woman (1955, novel)
  • Der Besuch der alten Dame / The Visit (1956, drama)
  • Gesammelte Hörspiele / Collected Radio Plays (1961)
  • Die Physiker / The Physicists (1962, drama)
  • Play Strindberg. Totentanz nach A. Strindberg (1969, drama)
  • Stoffe. Zur Geschichte meiner Schriftstellerei / Materials (1977, essay)

Dürrenmatt on the Web

Friedrich Dürrenmatt
Alles über Dürrenmatt und seine Werke. Von Raphael Fischer.

Andere Autoren und ihre Werke. Von Raphael Fischer.

Dürrenmatt Books

German Book Sources
For the titles listed below (and others), on this page you'll find links to online, mail order and brick-and-mortar book stores that carry German books, including works by Dürrenmatt.

Der Besuch der alten Dame
by Friedrich Dürrenmatt
An annotated German version of Dürrenmatt's most famous drama. Paperback.

The Physicists
by Friedrich Dürrenmatt
The English version of "Die Physiker" translated by James Kirkup. Paperback.

Die Physiker; The Physicists
by Friedrich Dürrenmatt
The German version. Paperback.

Der Richter und sein Henker
by Friedrich Dürrenmatt
The original German of Dürrenmatt's famous crime novel "The Judge and his Executioner." Paperback.

Related Pages

Biographical profiles of notable Germans, Austrians, and Swiss.

Authors in German Literature 1
Our main page for German-language authors on the Web.

Authors in German Literature 2
Our author index and link page for German-language authors.

German Book Sources
Links to online, mail order and brick-and-mortar book stores that carry German books and other materials.

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German Literature
Links and information realted to literature auf Deutsch.

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