Dürrenmatt, Friedrich

Dürrenmatt, Friedrich frē´drĭkh dür´ənmät [key], 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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