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Max Frisch

Max Frisch was born in Zürich in 1911 to a lower middle class family. He studied German literature, worked as a journalist, and then completed a degree in architecture, building a successful practice. But he continued to write. His plays Biedermann und die Brandstifter (1953) and Andorra (1961) are often interpreted as parables about the causes and nature of European fascism. In his Sketchbooks 1945 – 1949 he recorded his impressions of post-war Europe, including the destroyed cities of Germany and Soviet-dominated Warsaw. In the 1950s, supported by a fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation, Frisch lived in New York and traveled to Mexico. His novels Stiller (1954) and Homo Faber (1957) contributed significantly to the postwar rehabilitation of German as a language in which literature could still be written. His novel-memoir Montauk (1975) crossed genres into what we now know as autofiction. His last novel, Man in the Holocene (1979), was first published in English in the New Yorker; the New York Times called it a masterpiece. Frisch was a recipient of the Georg Büchner Prize, the most prestigious prize in German literature, and many others. He died in 1991.

Friends and Strangers

Max Frisch was one of the great twentieth century masters of the novel, drama, and journal forms. Born in Switzerland in 1911, he came to prominence after World War II as a literary and public figure unalterably opposed to fascism in all its forms, speaking out on many issues.


The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2023

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