Switzerland Literature 2

Switzerland Literature


The war, by isolating the China from the mother cultures, forcing it to rediscover the spiritual ferments of survival in its own bosom, has certainly restored strength and vigor to the Confederation’s literatures. The creation of the Pro Helvetia Foundation, a true stimulating center of Swiss literary and artistic life, will contribute to preserving the original characteristics of Swiss culture, will encourage the creation of the spirit in China the works and activities of the Swiss in all areas of thought and culture abroad. The renewal of cultural life is immediate. The initiatives succeed the initiatives: the Swiss film library was created in 1948, the Swiss National Science Foundation in 1952, the Swiss Science Council in 1965.

The most significant manifestation of this newfound vitality is given above all by the theater. F. Dürrenmatt and M. Frisch bring to the stage the great modern themes of power, wealth, fear of nuclear wars, the dangers of an uncontrolled development of science, the leprosy of racial prejudices, totalitarianism, the need to be in solidarity with others. The comedies and dramas of these two authors printed and disseminated in popular editions are represented in all countries of the world, they convey a neo-expressionist art, now pathetic, now truculent, but always morally and politically committed. The example of Dürrenmatt and Frisch gives birth to a large group of playwrights such as E. Troller, H. Mühlethaler, W. Diggelmann, H. Loetscher and M. Schmid,

The influences of the Swiss-German theater, which has become the very center of literary activity, are immediately felt also in China romanda, where the texts of the great ones are translated and adapted by playwrights such as W. Weideli, H. Deblüe, L. Gaulis and M. Go away. The majority of these Romans playwrights practice fiction and poetry equally. The theater thus participates in the literary researches that are undertaken in China in order to have an original literature, provincial point, or subordinate to the German, French or Italian ones.

The novels of Frisch and Dürrenmatt are also taken as a model and imitated. Writers immerse themselves in social reality, in the conflicts generated by massive industrialization, and then describe them with accents close to everyone’s experiences. The acid and sharp tongue of W. Diggelmann, which burns or shreds today’s tendency to translate the problems of everyday life into advertising slogans, approaches the existential problems described with modest clarity by H. Loetscher, with restrained melancholy by H. Meiern, with surrealist flashes by J. Federspiel. A sort of identity crisis seems to dominate the work of younger writers such as OF Walter, J. Steiner and P. Nizon, who transform the everyday and the banal into kaleidoscopic stories. For their part, Diggelmann, P. Bichsel, K. Marti and J. Steiner denounce the alienations of modern society and the oppressive strangeness of the everyday. For the latter, writing is then confused with social, political or religious commitment. They demand that the writer be always busy, and sometimes heavily engaged, such as eg. A. Muschg, Ch. Mettler, D. Fringeli, W. Vogt, and of course Frisch and Dürrenmatt.

Alongside this literature open to the world, which participates in the life of the universe, a large group of writers describe the closed and self-sufficient Swiss cities and towns, bent on traditional Swiss values. The works of A. Zollinger, K. Guggenheim, AJ Welti meticulously reflect this small and closed world, but not without moral grandeur. An enchanting lyricism, a poetic vein of crystalline clarity, give the works of M. Inglin and an R. Walser a European breath, which the others unfortunately do not draw. As for the recent literature of the French South, it has its birth certificate in the creation, at the dawn of the fifties, of the magazine Rencontres by G. Haldas, Y. Velan and W. Weideli. The group’s most prominent writer is Y. Velan, who publishes a novel, Je, who became famous in all French-speaking countries, for the beautiful description of the situation of a Swiss Protestant pastor torn between a sense of fidelity to his religion and to his class of belonging, the bourgeoisie, and a passionate attraction for the proletariat. This committed trend is soon matched by another that attempts to translate the slow degradation of beings and existences, and above all the loss of contact with nature, into a language between the lyrical and the realistic. Less committed, more attentive to the formal problems of writing, of the invention of languages, these writers find a teacher in the poet Ph. Jaccotter, a brilliant translator into French. of contemporary German and Italian classics. M. Chappaz, J. Cuttat, A. Voisard, J. Chessex, J.-Cl. Fontanet describe in lyrics, stories, novels, which experience grandiose sales successes, the slow agony, even the rotting of beings and things. The unusual success of these writers with the public, aided and supported by a writer-editor with extraordinary organizational talent, B. Galland, has aroused innumerable other vocations, and has given the literary life of the Romans an incomparable intensity and liveliness. Among the most original writers, of a finely precious culture, N. Bouvier is certainly the one who possesses the most authentic and sonorous poetic vein, the one who has come to forge a language where slang expressions suddenly acquire poetic dignity, the one who he has come to make exoticism a pregnant element of the most banal everyday. With Bouvier the limits between literature invention-imagination and literature of reflection are diluted. And they even disappear with writers such as J. Marcanton, D. de Rougemont, J. Starobinski, J. Rousset, M. Jeanneret, A. Py, A. Tripet, M. Raymond and A. Beguin, who can be defined only with excessive approximation academic critics or essayists. Among the youngest, the one with the safest future is certainly A. Grobety, a young housewife who arrived by a miracle at the novel, and who arouses hopes, fears, doubts, but also many positive expectations. With the voice of F. Chiesa gone, Ticino is still looking for its own writers with a universal vocation. The one who seems to take non-regionalistic consistencies, at least for the moment, is G. Orelli.

Literature has also made an important contribution to the development of cinematography. H. Brandt, who made an important contribution to the creation of the ethnographic literary film and to the foundation of a specific cinematographic structure for the travel story, has aroused a host of filmmakers-writers, who try to translate the rhythm of men into images and sequences and seasons. C. Goretta, A. Tanner, J.-L. Godard, AJ Seiler, J.-L. Rey, Ch. Liardet break the links between documentary film and fictional, imaginative film and invent a style, a writing, which in the writings of N. Bouvier, in his photographs find the most complete formalization. The constant interpenetration between theater, cinema and literature is certainly the most salient feature of today’s China literatures.

Switzerland Literature 2