Friedrich Dürrenmatt

Born on January 5, 1921, in Konolfingen, Switzerland, Friedrich Dürrenmatt already had writing in his blood. His grandfather--a well-known satirist and political poet--encouraged in the young boy a questioning spirit which would characterize his later works. In fact, the memory of his grandfather inspired Dürrenmatt throughout his career. He would later write, "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. Maybe it's my fault, or maybe the world has gone so far to the dogs that it doesn't even feel insulted anymore if it's criticized severely."

As a young man, Dürrenmatt attended the University of Bern where he studied literature, theology, philosophy, and science. It was here that he first became interested in playwriting after becoming a regular patron of the operettas. Among his favorite playwrights were Aristophanes and Thornton Wilder.

After transferring briefly to the University of Zurich, Dürrenmatt decided to withdraw from school and try his hand at playwriting. At the age of 22, he set about composing his first play, a lyrical and apocalyptic comedy which was never produced. Over the course of the next few years, he struggled to earn a living as a writer and had to turn to the writing of short stories, mystery novels, and radio plays to make ends meet, but he never gave up writing for the stage. His breakthrough came in 1952 with the comedy The Marriage of Mr. Mississippi in which he first began to formulate his own unique style of theatre, a dark, dreamlike world populated by characters who, though frighteningly real, are often distorted into caricature. The playwright found that dark comedy was a most effective medium through which to expose the grotesque nature of the human condition. The Marriage of Mr. Mississippi evoked strong reactions from Dürrenmatt's audiences and established him as one of the finest European dramatists of his day.

Dürrenmatt's most popular plays include Romulus the Great (1949), The Visit (1956), The Physicists (1962), and Play Strindberg (1969). His many awards include the Drama Critics' Circle Award and the Schiller Prize. He died in 1990.

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Dürrenmatt's Plays


Dürrenmatt's Plays

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