Portland State University. Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures
Term of Graduation
Date of Publication
Master of Arts (M.A.) in German
Max Frisch (1911-1991) -- Criticism and interpretation
1 online resource (51 pages)
Because of his Swiss origin and background, Max Frisch has personally experienced the confinements imposed upon the individual by the expectations and demands of society as well as of a national government. He treats the theme of confinement in many of his works, but especially in his prose.
In agreement with the spirit of his generation, Frisch rejects the claim of society upon the individual to conform or to become an integral part of a collective. All human relations which impose upon his way of thinking or acting are rejected and regarded as "claims of imprisonment."
Marriage, class consciousness and government are three forms of imprisonment which serve and enforce the good order of society, but which also obstruct and almost prevent the possibility for the individual to develop his potential. This point of view as such is not new in the literature of the twentieth century; however, Frisch does not treat the subject of individualization in an aggressive manner, as do many other contemporary writers. On the contrary, he sees the solution to the problem of confinement in the defensive attitude of the individual who recognizes and accepts reality, whatever this recognition and acceptance may imply.
Frisch's three heroes try to escape the threefold prison mentioned above: Stiller denies his own personality and chooses' a new "I"; Homo Faber elevates technique and progress and depends upon the power of cybernetics to guide his actions; Gantenbein tries to escape reality by playacting different roles or fantasized stories and situations: "ich stelle mir vor..... (I imagine....). All three fail in their attempt to escape and return to their imprisonment, only to recognize too late that, "Urn die Welt zu ertragen, um stand zu halten sich selbst, um am Leben zu bleiben" (in order to suffer the world, to suffer oneself, in order to stay alive) one should face reality in a defensive manner. If reality does not measure up to one's ideals or expectations, the responsibility for change rests upon the shoulders of the individual, each at his own place and within his abilities. In this thesis I examine the reasons for the breakdown in the relations of these three heroes with their environment and compare and contrast their behavior with one another. This is preceded by an attempt to establish the reason why Frisch preoccupies himself so intensely with the theme of confinement and the role which his Swiss background plays in his ideology.
The following three novels were chosen for this study: Stiller, Roman, Fischer Bucherei, Frankfurt a/Main und Hamburg, 1970; Homo Faber, Ein Bericht, Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt a/Main, 1969; and Mein Name sei Gantenbein, Roman, Fischer Bucherei, Frankfurt a/Main and Hamburg, 1968. Besides these three novels extensive references are made to Frisch's diary, Tagebuch 1946-1949, Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt a/Main, 1965.
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Inghels, Leen J., "Das Motiv der Einschränkung in einigen Romanen Max Frischs" (1972). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 952.