Swiss Literature from 1960 to 1990

In the 1960s, a new generation of writers appeared in public, with whom Swiss literature also set new accents in an international context: the politicization of literature, profoundly ironic depiction, and often satirical criticism of compatriots and their ways of life characterize the works of P. Bichsel, H. Loetscher, A. Muschg, O. F. Walter, W. M. Diggelmann, J. Federspiel, J. Steiner, P. Nizon, H. Boesch, H. Meier and W. Vogt; the few women who emerged literary during this period mostly processed autobiographical experiences, for example Gertrud Wilker (* 1924, † 1984), E. Pedretti and H. Meier. At the same time, a new dialect literature established itself, which in dialect does not emphasize the familiarity of the native sound, but rather the strangeness and the alienation of its formulaic content and uses it as an artistic device. This development was stimulated (in this respect similar to Austrian literature) by concrete poetry (which essentially originated in Switzerland), especially by E. Gomringer’s »Constellations« (first published in 1953) and the works of D. Roth. They influenced z. B. Ernst Eggimann (* 1936, † 2015) and Rolf Geissbühler (* 1941, † 2010), K. Marti and Peter Lehner († * 1922, † 1987). Her experiments on form promoted the tendency towards laconic statements and puns in high-level poetry (D. Fringeli) and also had an impact on the song movement around the Bern troubadour Mani Matter (* 1936, † 1972) and on cabaret (F. Hohler). The literary life of the 1960s was marked by great literary feuds between traditional writers and the new generation. The first harbinger of this was K. Guggenheims Font »Home or domicile? The position of the German-Swiss writer ”(1961). In the Zurich literary dispute of 1966, the representatives of the new generation of writers, but also M. Frisch and F. Dürrenmatt, defended the openness, contemporaneity and realism of committed literature against the conservative scolding of the Germanist E. Staiger. In 1969 this polarization finally led to the split of the Swiss Writers’ Association (SSV) and the establishment of the »Olten Group« (GO). For the younger authors, M. Frisch and F. Dürrenmatt became important literary models: M. Frisch initially with the theme of suffering at home (»Stiller«, 1954). B. in P. Nizon (“Diskurs in der Enge”, 1970), in narrative works in A. Muschg (“In the summer of the rabbit”, 1965) and H. Burger (“Schilten”, 1976), v. a. taken up again as an individual suffering in society or concentrated on coming to terms with the past as in WM Diggelmann’s “Die Hinterlassenschaft” (1965), H. Wiesner’s “Schauplätze” (1969) and W. Kauer’s “Schachteltraum” (1978), J. Steiner’s“Das Netz zerreißen «(1982), with a language-critical accent in U. Widmer. Plays by also aim in the same direction H. Meier, H. Schneider and T. Hürlimann ; with W. Kauer, A. Honegger, S. Blatter and Beat Sterchi (* 1949, »Blösch«, 1983) the discussion culminated in a new kind of homeland novel that makes people aware of the endangerment of this homeland, with E. Hasler (»Anna Göldin, last witch «, 1982) it is reflected in the historical novel. F. Dürrenmatt, on the other hand, influenced authors such as W. Vogt and G. Späth’s baroque picaresque and world theater novels through his phantasmagoric portrayal of Switzerland, which was supposed to catch up with a piece of its hidden reality H. Burger’s novel (alb) dreams between saving madness and Swiss reality, on the narrative work of F. Hohler as well as on J. Federspiel, E. Y. Meyer and on the anti- utopias of Alex Gfeller (* 1947; “Das Komitee. Swissfiction”, 1983). The Kafkaesque work of Lorenz Lotmar (* 1945, † 1980) , hardly noticed during his lifetime, now found its audience.

Critical examination of the contemporary reality of Switzerland can also be found in the reports by N. Meienberg and J. Federspiel. In the literature of the “workshop worker-writers” from the E. Zopfi (“Every minute costs 33 francs,” 1977) emerged, is the representation of the world of work, such as open S. Blatter and Rolf Niederhauser (* 1951) from the personal experience, how the inclusion of one’s own experiences and personalities became increasingly important in the literature of the 1970s. Here, too, M. Frisch led the way with “Montauk” (1975), the then programmatically G. Leutenegger (»Vorabend«, 1975) and F. Zorns (pseudonym for Fritz Angst, * 1944, † 1976) »Mars« (published 1977) followed. G. Meier’s and O. Marchi’snovels as well as the works of E. Meylan and R. Hänny’s prose also belong in this context. The realistic narration aimed at social criticism was continued by O. Steiger , and J. Amann’s biographical novellist also sticks to facts.

Since the 1970s, encouraged not least by social paradigm shifts, women with a new self-confidence have increasingly appeared in public literary terms: V. Stefan (»Skinning«, 1975, became a cult book of the women’s movement), G. Leuteneggerand Mariella Mehr (* 1947) create internal and external destruction in their novels; L. Wyss expresses her rich life experience in simple poetry; Maja Beutler (* 1936), A. Duvanel , Margrit Baur (* 1937) and H. Johansen should also be mentioned . Based on forerunners in the 1960s (P. Nizon; B. Brechbühl; Clemens Mettler, * 1936) developed a demanding experimental prose in the 1970s, musically through variation and repetition with G. Bachmann , rhythmically influenced by jazz with J. Laederach, shaped by Russian formalism and structuralism with F. P. Ingold and similarly with the semiotic André Vladimir Heiz (* 1951).

Since the 1980s, suffering at home no longer dominated literary work to that extent; the basic critical attitude of most authors towards their country did not change (visible for example in M. Frisch’s “Switzerland Without Army? A Palaver”, 1989; as a drama under the title “Jonas and his Veteran”, premiered in 1989, or in the novels of U. Faes ), was hardly discussed because of the obvious lack of consequences, but was reflected in gloomy, depressing scenes. Here, too, R. Walser was once again creating tradition, his influence can already be seen in L. Hohl, P. Bichsel and A. Duvanel , and later also in K. Merz and M. Schriber .

Some authors turned away from Switzerland at times or completely: P. Nizon has lived in Paris since 1977, M. Zschokke in Berlin since 1980, and the early novels of the sociologist U. Jaeggi are also shaped by the Berlin student and intellectual milieu of the 1960s. and 1970s. The novels of Silvio Huonder (* 1954) , who also lives in Berlin, are determined by the motif of leaving home. For U. Jaeggi, A. Muschg et al. This distance is also a prerequisite for a (critical) rapprochement with home and past, for authors such as E. Y. Meier and H. Meier i.a. the narrowness of the province is no longer a problem, but an impetus to discover the world in the microcosm. O. F. Walters “Jammers” (“The First Unrest”, 1972) or G. Späth’s“Barbarswila” (1988) are not only provincial locations, but also the settings of a full world theater. H. Burger’s novel »Brenner« (1989), planned as a tetralogy, is, despite all the self-reflection, also a key novel about his homeland. M. Werneropposed the provincial world by abandoning all conventional relationships.

Swiss Literature from 1960 to 1990