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By Michael Butler (auth.)

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Extra info for The Plays of Max Frisch

Sample text

Thus despite his eloquence, the Contemporary Intellectual's impotence 40 The Plays of Max Frisch is dramatically highlighted, whether he maintains a superior ironic distance (as in the Prelude) or involves himself (as here) in the 'action'. His political predicament is underscored on the private level by the role ofMee Lan, as Frisch re-wrote it for the Paris production in 1972. For by removing the distracting dimension of the love affair between his protagonist and Mee Lan, Frisch has sharpened the point of his play.

9 From this perspective, the Con- 'The Great Wall of China' 41 temporary Intellectual can be seen as an anti-hero, 'ein absurder Held' ('an absurd hero'), 10 whose personal failure is marked by an ironic odyssey from proud intellectual independence to barely tolerated Court Fool. The warning is clear. In mapping out this dismal journey, Frisch confronts his hero with a danse macabre ofhistorical Masks. For as part of the cultural bric-a- brae of our minds, these apparitions symbolise the intricate ways in which the past can distort and even determine the present.

Dann saumt die Wolke sich mit Glut und schmilzt, Und bald, gekuBt vom ersten Sonnenstrahl, Blitzt Tau, der Straucher fluchtiges Geschmeid, 44 The Plays of Max Frisch Und Schatten fliehen unter Busch und Stein. 0 Tag! 0 unbegreifliches Geschenk! 0 Licht! 0 trautes Licht! 0 sel'ge Welt! 0 bittre Welt! 0 Welt! Wir lieben dich; du sollst nicht untergehn. (11, 214£) 0 agony of love! 0 agony of bliss! Compound in equal parts are we ofjoy and fear and haunted by the thought the world must pass away. Is there no place for our love's joy to be?

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