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Homo Faber

3.76  ·  Rating Details  ·  10,253 Ratings  ·  269 Reviews
Walter Faber, engineer, is a man for whom only the tangible, calculable, verifiable exists. Dubbed Homo Faber (Man the Maker) by associates, he is devoted to the service of a purely technological world. This devoted service is not, however, without cost: on a flight to South America Faber succumbs to what he interprets as "fatigue phenomena," and we see him lose touch with ...more
Paperback, 203 pages
Published 2011 by suhrkamp (first published 1957)
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Ian Not His Real Name
April 20, 2011:

I bought this book in 1979 and read it sometime in the early 80's.

It's only a couple of hundred pages, so when Praj asked me to review it, I thought, hey, why not re-read it (even though I very rarely re-read books).

April 22, 2011:

Re-reading this novel has been a total revelation.

Firstly, I had previously rated it four stars from memory. Now I have upgraded it to five stars.

It's not just good, it's great, one of the best books I've read.

Secondly, I haven't seen the Volker Schlonfo
And now here at last is a real book for grown-ups. Intelligent and utterly unsentimental, Homo Faber would, I feel, have been wasted on me if I'd read it ten years ago; now it strikes me as extraordinary. (This is unlike most novels, which, if not actually aimed at people in their late teens and early twenties, seem to resonate most strongly with that intense and exciting age group.)

As it happens, Walter Faber, the central character of this novel, does not read novels at all. He can't see the po
May 03, 2011 Praj rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lp
“Nothing is harder than to accept oneself." - Max Frisch.

Walter Faber is a paradigm of collective identity v/s self-identity, rationality v/s irrationality and providence v/s concurrence; counter positioning free will. You cannot find yourself anywhere except in yourself. Frisch portrays the contradictory worlds of methodical reasonableness and the quandary of being a mortal. Walter believes in what he nurtures. As a technologist working for UNESCO, he lives in the present and connects with th
Jun 11, 2013 Jan-Maat added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jan-Maat by: My mother
What a difference a reread makes. Now I want to seize everybody in turn by the lapels and say 'read this book and then read it again!'.

Unusually I know when I had the book for the first time, the Easter of 1995, there's an inscription in my Mother's handwriting on a flyleaf with that date. Now I've read it again, but also read it for the first time. You can't read the same book twice since you never can be the same reader.

The narrator doesn't see things that way. He is told: "technology..the kna
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
A series of number cropping up everywhere you look ("a lotto winning combination"). A girl (or a boy) you meet, accidentally, in several unlikely places ("we are meant for each other"). A sudden inclement weather on a scheduled date for a job interview ("a better job is waiting for me elsewhere"). Coincidences, synchronicity--people read meanings from them, even the atheists or those who believe in the pure randomness of the world.

An author who can create a world, and horrify you with it (e.g.,
Nov 27, 2011 Anne rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
oh my god I am so glad to be done with this tortuous book. I appreciate the other reviewers who point out the reasons for this story's existence. It is very well-written and I suppose it serves to remind us not to live like robots, to have feelings. Fortunately I don't live like a robot and I already have many feelings, thank you very much, so for me reading this was like spending hours and hours with a depressed and depressing very sad old man who is telling me all his regrets without even real ...more
Jun 18, 2012 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: european-novels
On the surface a straightforward story, simple and resembling a parable; but like a parable capable of many interpretations and readable on more than one level.
Walter faber is a rational man who believes in technology, a creature of habit. A series of events disrupt his settled life. A plane crash, a chance meeting with the brother of an old friend, a visit to the friend in central america, whose body they discover at his home. Then there ia a boat journey across the Atlantic. Faber, a middle a
Blanca Mazón
Nov 25, 2008 Blanca Mazón rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't believe this book is under the category "unpopular books"!!! this is one of books that have influenced me the most. The story of this man destined to become a robot, ignoring his emotions, trying to avoid suffering and depending always on logic and system, is a story of people in the 20th century. What we know now about emotional intelligence is what Max Faber lacks. If someone is interested in the depths and miseries of the human soul, he should read this book. Morover the language is s ...more
jo mo
Apr 20, 2012 jo mo rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
i truly hate this book! i had to read it in class once and create a frikking presentation. my mood drops several degrees when only thinking about this crappy book!

Sep 24, 2011 Hadrian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: german, fiction
A novel of slowing down and being left behind by the world and technology, and the imprisonment that that world might bring.
Feb 22, 2014 Ugh rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Vit Babenco
Dec 22, 2014 Vit Babenco rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“There aren't any prehistoric monsters any more. Why should I imagine them? I'm sorry, but I don't see any stone angels either; nor demons; I see what I see – the usual shapes due to erosion and also my long shadow on the sand, but no ghosts.”
Walter Faber is a pragmatist and he lives as if he is blown by the wind – he is a ship without an anchor and there is no haven for him in the sea of life and there is no place he can call his own. And in this endless roaming and his genuflection before the
Jun 27, 2016 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: latest-reviews

This book is required reading in many schools in Germany. Crazy idea. What are the “children” supposed to get out of it? And so are the ratings and reviews (here and elsewhere) by the young ones. Unfavorable. I have, I believe, seen the film one time. But forgotten have all about it.

Homo Faber is Walter Faber. Engineer. Lives by the motto “für einen Ingenör ist nichts zu schwör”. Constructs his world around technology. Writes letters in the desert after an emergency landing on a typewriter (mech
I had to read this for school and it was better than all the other books I've read for school. I actually enjoyed it and it was really quick and easy to read.
Gregory Tkac
Nov 25, 2012 Gregory Tkac rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A friend of mine, originally from Lichtenstein, read my first book and then immediately suggested that I read Max Frisch's "Homo Faber". He described it as a standard lit class novel in German language high schools throughout Europe, and I cringed with the notion that it would be boring as hell. When he told me that it was from one of the most famous Swiss authors and that it would be interesting to read his 1950's take on Switzerland, México and the US (all places I've lived) as well as some of ...more
Dec 14, 2012 Alexander rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Um Gottes Willen. Endlich geschafft. Meiner Meinung nach völlig überbewertet. Ein 200 Seiten langes blablablablablablabla. Wenn man die Namen Hanna und Sabeth aus dem Buch löschen würde, wär es wahrscheinlich nur 50 Seiten lang. Sabeth macht dies, Sabeth macht das, Hanna will weg aus Griechenland, Hanna will doch in Athen bleiben.... Bla bla bla.
Feb 16, 2016 Albena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, important
Една от книгите, които ме е формирала като човек. Оттам и петте звезди.
Любимата ми реплика за тежки състояния, "Не плача. Просто ми се иска да ме няма." е от "Хомо Фабер".
Но книгата не е тежка. Не е тъжна, не е весела. Тя е полиедърна, многогранна, дълбока и дълбаеща.
Една от книгите за спасяване на самотен остров.
Oct 17, 2015 Ellie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Επειδη η αγαπημενη μου ταινια εοναι το oldboy...
Sep 04, 2015 dely rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 0-switzerland
Era da molto che volevo leggere questo libro, ma non riuscivo mai a trovarne una copia tra l'usato. Poco tempo fa l'ho trovata e dopo tanto cercare non ho voluto rimandarne la lettura.
Il libro mi è piaciuto anche se mi aspettavo molto di più perché ne avevo sentito parlare benissimo e quindi forse vivevo di aspettative. La traduzione italiana lascia un po' a desiderare perché c'erano delle espressioni che non avevano molto senso. Penso che in futuro lo leggerò anche in tedesco.

La valutazione ch
Aug 28, 2014 Garyfalia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
I have always wanted to read Max Frisch and I am really happy that I started with this book. He has an amazing way of describing how the life that modern man has created can crumble down in no time. The hero seems invincible at first, "he can't do feelings" as he says but the last part of his life is nothing but it since he stands helpless in front of death. I particularly loved the writing style, curt sentences that seem to convey the meaning the author wishes and giving room to the reader to t ...more
George Georgiadis
May 15, 2015 George Georgiadis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chocolate
Η ροή και το ύφος της αφήγησης συμβαδίζει σε όλη την έκταση του βιβλίου με τον τρόπο σκέψης και την αντιμετώπιση του κόσμου μέσα από τη ματιά του πρωταγωνιστή. Ο Φάμπερ διαγράφει μια πορεία από τον ορθολογισμό και την επίπεδη αντίληψη των πραγμάτων έως τον έντονο συναισθηματισμό και την ενσυναίσθηση και -αναπόφευκτα- στην τελική συντριβή.
anna louise
I had to read this book over Christmasbreak, for school, which already annoyed me a lot. Next to that it sounded pretty boring so I wasn't looking really forward to it.
well, the book has some parts where you think, oh, how does it go on?, how will this end? and I actually really liked the scenes Sabeth was part of. the plot twist/ catastrophe that happened somewhere before the end was for me kind of expected, I don't know, but I thought something like this would happen. what annoys me most abou
Ira Therebel
Surprisingly I have never heard about this book before and it is a pretty important book in German literature that it is even taught in school.

Now, it doesn't seem to me like a book that should be taught in school. It is not the correct age group for it and they just end up hating such a great book because it is too early to understand.

It is pretty easy to get what the main theme of the book is when one knows what "homo faber" is. The book has a few main ideas and the author brings it to the re
Oct 28, 2013 AC rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels-german
How moving... How..., shockingly...surprisingly so
Homo Faber begins as an exciting adventure story: swirling snowstorms, a plane crash, stranded passengers barely surviving in a Mexican desert for four days, then unexpected journeys into uncharted ethnically dangerous Central America in search of a lost, white businessman.

As the adventure proceeds, Frisch's evocation of the Mexican and Guatemalan jungle is positively Joseph Conrad, done with spare, perfect prose and pace: palpable suffocating heat, dripping sweat and humidity, torrential floods
Nevena Kotarac
Oct 26, 2013 Nevena Kotarac rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Valter Faber je inženjer. Njegov život: trk od jednog do drugog sastanka, od mehanizma do mehanizma, letovi, plovidbe, učtivi ali isprazni razgovori, sve dosadnije ljubavne afere, hronični manjak kiseonika. (Jedva primjetna transformacija straha u bolest i mučninu.) Jedan let se, međutim, naglo prekida. Zbog nekakve tehničke greške, avion prinudno sleće u pustinju, gdje će putnici provesti tri dana, polusvjesni, izgladneli, očajni. Od tog trenutka, Faber se odvaja od svijeta neumoljivih pravilno ...more
Jim Leckband
Jan 16, 2013 Jim Leckband rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Walter Faber wishes he missed his flight after the fuel layover. But the universe was not going to let him miss the flight. Every thing he does to miss the flight doesn't work - hiding out in the bar, passing out in the bathroom only to be woken by a guardian angel(demon?), ignoring the universe calling his name over the public address until finally he thinks he hears his jet (a Super-Constellation) take off. He's safe until he hears the air hostess Fury saying "There you are Mr. Faber!"

No, Walt
Apr 24, 2015 Jos rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, german-lit
A true classic and a great book that suffers from most people reading it at the wrong age. Homo Faber is proof for my thesis that you should read books that were written when the author was approximately at the same age as you are now. Frisch wrote Homo Faber at the age of 46, most people have to read it in school when they are not prepared at all to get his message.

To value this book, experiences of failure are needed. Failure of relationships, failure of individual fulfillment, failure of find
Jul 21, 2012 Jafar rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There are a few very unlikely coincidences in this book. Coincidence is a cheap literary trick, especially when it doesn’t serve any real purpose and is there just to weave a story. I see why Frisch resorted to this trick. He wanted to contrast randomness with destiny. Is life a series of random events, some of which can be highly unlikely, or is there a preordained destiny awaiting us and shaping life’s events? Walter Faber, the protagonist, is a pragmatic engineer who doesn’t have much patienc ...more
Homo Faber was really a suprise for me. It was quite different from what I had imagined it to be. Also, I have to admit that my expectations for it weren't very high. I previously had read Gantenbein by the same author which I didn't like too much. But sometimes it's good to have low expectations for a book: I've often had better reading experiences with novels I wasn't looking forward too much than with ones that everyone was raving about. Homo faber is very well written and I literally couldn' ...more
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  • Sansibar oder der letzte Grund
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  • Fabian. Die Geschichte eines Moralisten
  • Der Untertan
  • The German Lesson
  • Draußen vor der Tür
  • Wilhelm Tell
  • The Last World
  • Jugend ohne Gott
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  • Das siebte Kreuz
  • Billiards at Half-Past Nine
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  • Aus dem Leben eines Taugenichts
  • The Stechlin
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Max Rudolph Frisch was born in 1911 in Zurich; the son of Franz Bruno Frisch (an architect) and Karolina Bettina Frisch (née Wildermuth). After studying at the Realgymnasium in Zurich, he enrolled at the University of Zurich in 1930 and began studying German literature, but had to abandon due to financial problems after the death of his father in 1932. Instead, he started working as a journalist a ...more
More about Max Frisch...

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“Technology... the knack of so arranging the world that we don't have to experience it.” 74 likes
“I've often wondered what people mean when they talk about an experience. I'm a technologist and accustomed to seeing things as they are. I see everything they are talking about very clearly; after all, I'm not blind. I see the moon over the Tamaulipas desert--it is more distinct than at other times, perhaps, but still a calculable mass circling around our planet, an example of gravitation, interesting, but in what way an experience? I see the jagged rocks, standing out black against the moonlight; perhaps they do look like the jagged backs of prehistoric monsters, but I know they are rocks, stone, probably volcanic, one should have to examine them to be sure of this. Why should I feel afraid? There aren't any prehistoric monsters any more. Why should I imagine them? I'm sorry, but I don't see any stone angels either; nor demons; I see what I see--the usual shapes due to erosion and also my long shadow on the sand, but no ghosts. Why get womanish? I don't see any Flood either, but sand lit up by the moon and made undulating, like water, by the wind, which doesn't surprise me; I don't find it fantastic, but perfectly explicable. I don't know what the souls of the damned look like; perhaps like black agaves in the desert at night. What I see are agaves, a plant that blossoms once only and dies. Furthermore, I know (however I may look at the moment) that I am not the last or the first man on earth; and I can't be moved by the mere idea that I am the last man, because it isn't true. Why get hysterical? Mountains are mountains, even if in a certain light they may look like something else, but it is the Sierra Madre Oriental, and we are not standing in a kingdom of the dead, but in the Tamaulipas desert, Mexico, about sixty miles from the nearest road, which is unpleasant, but in what way an experience? Nor can I bring myself to hear something resembling eternity; I don't hear anything, apart from the trickle of sand at every step. Why should I experience what isn't there?” 7 likes
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