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Book Reviews The Dramatic Event. Both Riordan and Bills annotate Bentley's Thirty Years of Treason, but neither indicates his softened attitude. However Bills 's annotations are the more solid. Riordan covers much peripheral material not contained in Bills, but often fails to annotate works containing enough discussion of Hellman's work to warrant annotation. Bills's apparatus is perhaps easier to work with (particularly ifone is not familiar with the material listed), but leads to more errors in the index. Both have errors and omissions; each is useful, but should be used with care. Riordan's book has the advantage of being easy on the bifocal eye; Bills's book should be read only by strong daylight. The definirive Hellman bibliography is still to come. In the meantime, libraries should acquire these. KATHERINE LEDERER, SOUTHWEST MISSOURI STATE UNIVERSITY KENNETH S. WHITTON. The Theatre ofFriedrichDiirrenmatt: A Study in the Possibility ofFreedom. London: Oswald Wolff; Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press 1980. PP·242. Before writing this book, Kenneth Whitten made himself familiar - judging from his footnotes and bibliography- with most of the secondary literature about Diirrenmatt; he also travelled to Switzerland and interviewed Diirrenmatt personally. The book is nevertheless a disappointment. Whitton not only has succeeded in misunderstanding an astonishing number of things, but has really nothing new to say about Diirrenmatt's plays. The book opens with a biographical chapter. Diirrenmatt was born in Konolfingen - a village which, indeed, lies "not far from the Swiss Federal capital," but Konolfingen definitely is not "on the road to the Bernese Oberland," as Whitton says (p. 10). Friedrich's cousin Peter Diirrenmatt, a respected journalist and historian, was chief editor not of the Berner Nachrichten, but of the more famous Basler Nachrichten (p. I I). When DUrrenmatt bought a house in Neuchatel, he moved there not from Berne, but from Ligerz, a village on the lake of Bienne (p. 14). The Cabaret Cornichon for which DUrrenmatt wrote in 1948 had nothing to do with the Dada cabaret Voltaire and stood in a quite different tradition. DUrrenmatt's first story, "Der Alte," appeared in I 945 in Der Bund, a daily published in Berne. In his book on Diirrenmatt (F.D. Das erziihlerische Werk [Frauenfeld und Stuttgart: Huber, 1972]), Peter Spycher stated the fact clearly: "in der Berner Tageszeitung Der Bund" (p. 48). In Jan Knopf's book on Diirrenmatt (F.D. [MUnchen: Beck, 1976]), the newspaper became the "BernerTageszeitung" (p. 15), and Whitton copies the mistake (p. 18). On p. 15, Whitton says: "There is an as yet unpublished play, entitled simply Komodie, written in 1943 with a chapter dedicated to Kafka, and some Kafkaesque short stories, now collected in the 1952 volume Die Stadt." In a footnote Whitton adds that Diirrenmatt told him "that he read Kafka only much later." Ifthis was the case, then why dedicate, in 1943, a part ofKomodie to Kafka - an author DUrrenmatt presumably knew only by name? What Whitton says about Swiss history, geography, and politics is sometimes ridiculous and quite absurd. He thinks that the "Riitli," where the Swiss Confederation originated in 1291 (see Schiller's Wilhelm Tell), is a mountain (pp. 93, 110), while it is, Book Reviews in fact, a little field on the lake ofLucerne where, today, the steamers stop on their way from Lucerne to Fliielen. The Swiss expression "Kantonligeist" is defined by Whitton as the wish ofpeople to "uphold the older Swiss traditions against 'modem' ideas" (p. 92). No, it simply means to put the interest of the "Kanton" (province) before the interest of the entire country, i. e., "provincialism." Diirrenmatt's son refused to do the compulsory military service and spent some days injail. Whitton adds that this happened "during the anti-Vietnam period" (p. 91). Was there any such thing in Switzerland? The name of the lunatic asylum ("Les Cerisiers") in Diirrenmatt's comedy Die Physiker reminds Whitton of "Swiss Kirsch" (p. 134), the banker Gottfried Frank (in Frank V) of the Swiss franc (what about "God"?), and the cellar (Keller) in which Frank dies of the Swiss poet Gottfried Keller (p. 146). Many factual errors could have been avoided ifWhitton had taken his facts from either Hans...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5286
Print ISSN
0026-7694
Pages
pp. 387-388
Launched on MUSE
2013-07-03
Open Access
No
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