Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=939408
 


 



What the Swiss Miss (Review of Friedrich Durrenmatt, Selected Writings)


Kenneth Anderson


American University - Washington College of Law; Stanford University - The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace; Brookings Institution - Governance Studies


The Wall Street Journal, Pursuits, "Writer's Block," p. 8, Saturday-Sunday, October 21-22, 2006

Abstract:     
The Swiss playwright and novelist Friedrich Durrenmatt (1921-90) is remembered among English-language audiences primarily as the author of the 1956 play, The Visit of the Old Lady. He is, however, a leading playwright and novelist, primarily of detective fiction, of Europe and the German language in the post-war period. This review from the Wall Street Journal examines the full body of his work in a three volume selection of his writings published by the University of Chicago. One important consideration is Durrenmatt's place as a German language writer, yet Swiss, rather than German, following the horrors of the Second World War. Durrenmatt spent the war as a neutral in Switzerland, looking on rather than participating; his writing, however, is centrally about justice. The review briefly argues that neutrality has moral limits, and that even neutrality in the service of humanitarianism - of the kind exemplified by the heroism of the International Committee of the Red Cross, headquartered in Switzerland and long the moral pride of Switzerland - has its limits. If everyone wants to be the neutral humanitarian, then evil will inevitably triumph; you cannot have the ICRC without also having Churchill, and neutrality is therefore always a derivative moral virtue.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 3

Keywords: Durrenmatt, Switzerland, International Committee of the Red Cross, Gunter Grass, Heinrich Boll, World War II, neutrality, humanitarianism, ICRC

JEL Classification: K10, K30, K39

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Date posted: October 24, 2006  

Suggested Citation

Anderson, Kenneth, What the Swiss Miss (Review of Friedrich Durrenmatt, Selected Writings). The Wall Street Journal, Pursuits, "Writer's Block," p. 8, Saturday-Sunday, October 21-22, 2006. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=939408

Contact Information

Kenneth Anderson (Contact Author)
American University - Washington College of Law ( email )
4801 Massachusetts Avenue N.W.
Washington, DC 20016
United States
Stanford University - The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace
Stanford, CA 94305-6010
United States
Brookings Institution - Governance Studies
1775 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States
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