April 3, 2017 Deutsch-Spieler

Gantenbein is one of the most significant works of modernist literature of the XX century. The theme of dualism is a key theme of Frisch’s creativity – it gets a completely different sound in the novel Gantenbein, since the reader does not even deal with real or imaginary characters, but with two equivalent characters  who act in parallel branches of one reality. At the same time, it is very difficult to understand who of them is more real…

A large part of the novel is based on fantasy “what would have happened if a healthy sighted person suddenly had decided to play the role of a blind man”. It would be interesting, because such an injury immediately put a person into another social conditions: a blind man does not give way to another person, a blind man does not owe anything to anyone, he is helpless, but he can be full of dignity at the same time. His aim is to make people more free, free them from fear that their lies can be visible. In the presence of a blind person, people can relax and take off their masks, show what they would never decided to do. A blind man will not judge people by their appearance. And how difficult it is to be blind when you actually can see everythin … It’s not mean that you are always afraid of exposing, but that you will see too many strangers’ secrets, and you have to learn how not to see them. But the surrounding people immediately begin to treat him better: indeed, what can be more pleasant than act not as who you are, but by someone much better. But the protagonist, freeing himself from the necessity of sophisticated lies of others, constantly deceives himself, his mask is not so easily to be taken off. And now there are other personalities, other alternatives of the development of events. Perhaps, people who can see are much more blind than he? Can a mask be more necessary than your personality? My favorite line in the novel is in what way the love is expressed and how to achieve harmony in a relationship. Because Frisch’s decision is very nontrivial and at the same time very logical: it’s enough to turn a blind eye to some things. Sometimes you just have to be blind, because the whole world of another person, no matter how close he is and how much you love him, can not be shared. Love is not in possession at all.

About the author

Jonathan Schindler: