A comprehensive overview of one of Switzerland's most talented and scandalous playwrights
In Understanding Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Crockett treats the acclaimed masterworks as well as the failures, following Dürrenmatt's conviction that the latter are often as revealing about an author as the former. In addition to his thorough appraisal of Dürrenmatt's dramatic canon, Crockett provides careful readings of the dramatist's prose works.
This introductory volume explores the playwright's chaotic universe, where God has retreated beyond the stars and where blind chance is the real prime mover, justice is corruptible, ideologies useless, and tragedy no longer possible. Yet despite the overriding pessimism of Dürrenmatt's Weltanschauung, the author argues that the playwright remains a genial master of comedy. Through the laughter he allows his readers to see that all is not lost, that there are virtues worth fighting for, and that there are still courageous Don Quixotes worthy of the title "hero."
Crockett contends that as a theorist of the modern German stage, Dürrenmatt challenges Bertolt Brecht and offers alternatives. As a craftsman of prose fiction, he fashions the stout thread with which the readers enter his labyrinths and eventually find their way back out, while his literary Theseuses, clinging to gossamer strands, sometimes fall prey to the monster in the maze.
Roger A. Crockett is a professor of German and chairman of the Department of German and Russian at Washington and Lee University. For more than a decade after receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, he taught German language and literature at Texas A&M. He has published several articles on nineteenth-century Austrian drama and coedited a three-volume edition of Hans Sachs. An amateur theater enthusiast, he has directed a number of German-language productions in Texas and Virginia.
"This lucidly written monograph is the first work since the death of Dürrenmatt in 1991 to study the author's life and complete writings. This book is recommended to both undergraduates and scholars."—Choice