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Distributed for Seagull Books

Sketchbooks, 1946–1949

Translated by Simon Pare
A new translation of one of the earliest volumes of Max Frisch’s innovative notebooks.
 
Throughout his life, the great Swiss playwright and novelist Max Frisch (1911–1991) kept a series of diaries, or sketchbooks, as they came to be known in English. First published in English translation in the 1970s, these sketchbooks played a major role in establishing Frisch as, according to the New York Times, “the most innovative, varied and hard-to-categorize of all major contemporary authors.” His diaries, said the Times, “read like novels and his best novels are written like diaries.”
 
Now Seagull Books presents the first unabridged English translation of Sketchbooks, 1946–1949 in a new translation by Simon Pare. This edition reinstates material omitted from the 1977 edition, including a screenplay for an unmade film. In this first volume, which covers the years 1946 to 1949, Frisch chronicles the intellectual and material situation in postwar Europe from the vantage point of a citizen of a neutral, German-speaking country. His notes on travels to the scarred cities of Germany, to Austria, France, Italy, Prague, Wroclaw, and Warsaw paint a complex and stimulating picture of a continent emerging from the rubble as new fault lines are drawn between East and West. As Frisch completes his final architectural projects and garners early success as a writer, he reflects on theater, language, and writing, and he sketches the outlines of plays, including The Fire Raisers and Count Öderland.
 
Whatever experience he chronicles in the sketchbook—whether it’s a Bastille Day party, an Italian fish market, or a tightrope display amid the ruins of Frankfurt or an afternoon by Lake Zurich with Bertolt Brecht, to take just a few examples—his keen dramatist’s eye immerses the reader in the setting while also probing the deeper significance and motivations underlying the scene. This new translation will serve to draw out the immediacy and contemporary quality of Frisch’s observations from the shadow of his status as a classic author, bringing his work to life for a new audience.

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Table of Contents

1946
Zurich, Café de la Terrasse
Marion and the marionettes
Café de la Terrasse
Postscript to Marion (Marion and the angel)
Café de la Terrasse
Basel, March
Marion and the ghost
Munich, April
Thou shall not make unto thee any graven image
Between Nuremberg and Würzburg
The Andorran Jew
Frankfurt, May
On being a writer
Harlaching, May
On being a writer
Travelling, May
Café de la Terrasse
On Marion
Postscript to the journey
On Marion (Marion at the exhibition)
After a flight
Politeness
Café de la Terrasse
On theatre (the frame)
Café de la Terrasse
On theatre (the forestage)
In the newspaper (about the cashier)
By the lake
Count Öderland (seven scenes)
Genoa, October
Portofino Mare, October
Café Delfino
On the beach
Reading (unfinished work)
Portofino Monte
Milan, October
The Chinese Wall (dress rehearsal)
Calendar story
Café Odeon
Pfannenstiel
Draft letter

1947
On marionettes
Davos
Travelling
To Maja
Prague, March
Prague
Hradcin
Prague
Nuremberg, March
At home
Café de la Terrasse
Pfannenstiel (Albin Zollinger)
Marion and the angel
Letzigraben, August
Portofino, September
On architecture
Florence, October
Travelling
Siena, October
Travelling
Café Odeon (nihilism)
Letzigraben
Travelling
Zurich, 9.11.1947
On the train
Frankfurt, November
On being a writer
On the train
Berlin, November
Letzigraben
Postscript (the Russian officer and the German woman)
On lyric poetry
Letzigraben
Travelling

1948
Vienna, January
Prague, January
Reading (Carlo Levi)
Café Odeon
Burlesque
Café Odeon
Pfannenstiel
Café Odeon
Frankfurt, April
On theatre (the theatrical)
Berlin, April
On being a writer
Berlin, May
Letzigraben
Café Odeon
Travelling
Paris, July
Autobiography
Paris, July
Letzigraben
Brecht
Prague, 23.8.1948
On being a writer
Wroclaw, 24.8.-27.8.1948
Warsaw, 28.8.-3.9.1948
Letzigraben
Postscript to the journey
Actors
Frankfurt, November
Arabesque
Hamburg, November
Letzigraben
Café Odeon
Letzigraben

1949
New Year’s Day (kindness)
Zurich, 8.1. 1949 (Premiere of When the War was Over)
Letzigraben (with Brecht)
Reviews
Basel, Carnival
Stuttgart, 29.4.1949
Letzigraben
Story
Letzigraben
Café Odeon
Travelling
The Harlequin, outline for a film
Kampen, July
Reminiscence
Westerland
Kampen, August
Hamburg, September
Travelling
Jealousy
Café Odeon
More on jealousy
Arles, October
Sketch (Schinz)
At the office
Café Odeon

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