Show Less
Restricted access

Becoming Fiction

Reassessing Atheism in Dürrenmatt's «Stoffe»


Olivia Gabor-Peirce

Becoming Fiction: Reassessing Atheism in Dürrenmatt’s Stoffe sets forth a clarification of the importance of Friedrich Dürrenmatt, modern Swiss dramatist, essayist, novelist and self-proclaimed atheist (1921–1990), and offers new insights into the ways in which his father’s vocation as a Protestant minister, along with Dürrenmatt’s own decision as a young man to pursue a career in writing rather than religion, shaped his world view and, in particular, made necessary a final, desperate attempt to fictionally recast his own life through revisions and amplifications of many of his earlier works when he created his final prose volume, Stoffe. Dürrenmatt devoted immense energy in his writings to wrestling with his father’s God as a way of seeking self-identity. That perceived loss of his father’s esteem became the motor behind his works. After earlier successes, the icy reception of his most ambitious play, Der Mitmacher, in 1976, left the author in such a frustrated state of disappointment that he reached a point of linguistic breakdown. This book contends that Dürrenmatt’s loss of voice forced the author to a new kind of writing: a ‘re-turn’ home. Becoming Fiction explores the damage caused by Dürrenmatt’s inability to express his most central beliefs through the outdated, deceptive modes of linguistic thought and tradition. Consequently, the book argues, at the point of that breakdown of rigid linguistic and theological concepts, a space was forced open, and the Stoffe reveal a Divine presence.

Table of contents