An Answer from the Silence: A Story from the Mountains

Overview

This novel by esteemed Swiss writer Max Frisch is an exploration of the question: “Why don’t we live when we know we’re here just this one time, just one single, unrepeatable time in this unutterably magnificent world?!” This outcry against the emptiness of ordinary everyday life uttered by the hero of Frisch’s book is countered by “an answer from the silence” he meets when face-to-face with death.

When An Answer from the Silence begins, the protagonist has just turned thirty ...

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Overview

This novel by esteemed Swiss writer Max Frisch is an exploration of the question: “Why don’t we live when we know we’re here just this one time, just one single, unrepeatable time in this unutterably magnificent world?!” This outcry against the emptiness of ordinary everyday life uttered by the hero of Frisch’s book is countered by “an answer from the silence” he meets when face-to-face with death.

When An Answer from the Silence begins, the protagonist has just turned thirty and is engaged to be married and about to start work as a teacher. Frightened by the idea of settling down, he journeys to the Alps in a do-or-die effort to climb the unclimbed North Ridge, and by doing so prove he is not ordinary. But having reached the top he returns not in triumph, but in frostbitten shock, having come dangerously close to death.

This highly personal early novel reflects a crisis in Frisch’s own life, and perhaps because of this intimate connection, he refused to allow it to be included in his Collected Works in the 1970s. Now available in English, this distinctive book will thrill fans of Frisch’s other works.

 

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In acclaimed Swiss writer Frisch's novella, available for the first time in English, a young man wrestles with his horror of ordinariness (i.e. getting married and starting a career as a teacher) by going on walkabout in the Swiss Alps, while his long-suffering fiancé Barbara wonders why he's disappeared 10 days before their wedding. In the mountains, he meets Irene, a "young foreign woman," who briefly diverts him from his desire to climb the treacherous North Ridge, giving rise to a hope that flirting with her rather than dying will satisfy his desire to "live...just one single, unrepeatable time in this unutterably magnificent world!" But even Irene's charms are not enough to distract him from his quest and he slips away early one morning to continue alone. Infused with a post-WWI despair at the human condition, Frisch (1911-1991) refused this early piece's inclusion in his collected works in the 1970s, having burned the original manuscript in the woods in 1937. It seems a pity that this earnest and unusual book, in a crisp translation by Mitchell, has been denied us until now. (Mar.)
Bookslut - Janet Potter
"When the climber sets out alone towards the deathly North Ridge, his quest does feel like it will answer something. What has already been answered, long before we learn the climber’s fate, is the value of stepping out of our tracks, every once in a while, and asking questions of the sky."Bookslut.com
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781906497927
  • Publisher: Seagull Books
  • Publication date: 3/15/2011
  • Series: Seagull Books - The Swiss List Series
  • Edition description: Translatio
  • Pages: 118
  • Sales rank: 1,465,942
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Max Frisch (1911–91) was one of the giants of twentieth-century literature, achieving fame as a novelist, playwright, diarist, and essayist. His works include Andorra, I’m Not Stiller, A Wilderness of Mirrors, and Man in the Holocene. Mike Mitchell has published over fifty translations, including works by Goethe, Thomas Bernhard, and Oskar Kokoschka.

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Table of Contents

An Answer from the Silence: A Story from the Mountains

Afterword by Peter von Matt

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