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The Visit

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  4,199 ratings  ·  117 reviews

This is the first complete English translation of the play that many critics consider to be Durrenmatt's finest work. Unlike an earlier version adapted for the English-language stage, this translation adheres faithfully to the author's original play as it was published and performed in German.

The action of The Visit takes place in the small town of Guellen, "somewhere in C

Paperback, 112 pages
Published January 7th 1994 by Grove Press (first published 1956)
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Brilliant! I've compared this book to fine German engineering... every perfected detail has a purpose and nothing is superfluous. Swiss born Durrenmatt was a minister's son who lived through WW2, and spent his life working and re-working (and re-re-working!) these plots while figuring out his own standings on faith and human nature. He's an intellectual but not an idealist, believing in the goodness of human nature while knowing full well its limits. The book is rich with insights into the hypoc...more
Really loved this tragicomedy. Dürrenmatt's works are timeless, but they are also the product of a Swiss vantage during cold war. In "The Visit" or in German "Der Besuch der alten Dame" an old lady who becomes the wealthiest person in the world returns to the village that cast her out as a young woman and offers riches to the town in exchange for the life of Alfred Ill, who once disgraced her. It’s all about an immoral deal: if the town wants her financial support, she wants something in return....more
“La visita de la vieja dama” de Friedrich Dürrenmatt (escritor suizo en lengua alemana) tiene un primer acto que es el de una farsa. La acción se ambienta en Güllen, una pequeña ciudad de provincias que en el pasado había sido próspera pero que ahora está totalmente arruinada y ni siquiera los trenes se detienen en su estación. Sin embargo, puede que las cosas cambien, porque una antigua habitante del pueblo, convertida ahora en prácticamente la mujer más rica del mundo, ha anunciado su visita y...more
"Ich beschreibe Menschen, nicht Marionetten, eine Handlung, nicht eine Allegorie, stelle eine Welt auf, keine Moral".
- Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Anmerkung I, p. 141

The quotation cited above is useful information, because I came up with some weird and rather nasty interpretations of this play while reading it. Dürrenmatt's emphasis on taking this text at face value is reassuring in this case. It may perhaps also be the most useful and accurate interpretation, in that it comes closest to the unexplain...more
Conni Wayne
I loved this play. It was so excellent. It richly describes the going-ons of a disfunctional town, and I love that. And the ending, it was perfect, and I really would have been disapointed in anything different (though some of my classmates state the opposite). The absurdist level was fun for the comedy and the tragedy, and I am glad I read it.
Nathan Black
This is an odd play, the kind you have to read several times before you really get it. While reading it I was wondering if the action would have played out differently in my mind if I were reading it in the original language. It seems that language would flow more smoothly and the ideas would be better presented that way. Not that the translation was poor because it certainly was not, and the story itself comes through lucidly, I just usually wonder what it would be like to read a play in its o...more
Robert Beveridge
Friedrich Durrenmatt, The Visit (Grove, 1956)

Another excellent piece of work from Friedrich Durrenmatt, the story of The Visit takes place in a in central Europe somewhere; the country is not given (the reasons should be obvious). As the town is on the verge of bankruptcy, with almost total unemployment and a pervasive sense of despair, one of the town's local folk made good comes back, hinting that she will give the town enough money to bail it out: get the factory working again, allow t...more
"The Visit" stands as a small masterpiece of misanthropy, a play whose cynicism is so thickly layered that the greed driving the plot at its surface seems almost the least of its characters' sins. For Durrenmatt, people, not money, are the root of all evil.

Unlike Miller's "The Crucible", a contemporary play, this is not an exercise in puritanical hand-wringing but a black and grotesque Grimm fairy story. At the centre of this fairy story is the witch to end all witches - Claire Zachanassian; th...more
This is another play about how absolutism, no matter what the purpose or just cause, is dangerous and savage and only brings about brutality.

In this play a small backwater economically failing little German town gets a visit from a millionairess who grew up there. The town, knowing of her generosity elsewhere hopes she will put them back on track and depends on her high school sweetheart to get her to agree to give the money. She does, but only in exchange for the death of her high school sweeth...more
Andriana Sakka
Το έργο πραγμαστεύεται τη δικαιοσύνη και την πίστη.Τη δικαιοσύνη ως μέλη μιας κοινωνίας, τη δικαιοσύνη που πρέπει να κατανέμει η κοινωνία απέναντιστα μέλη της, την πίστη που πρέπει να έχουμε στους συνανθρώπους μας.
Η υπόθεση του έργου διαδραματίζεται στο Γκίλεν, μια κοινότητα της Γερμανίας. Η κοινότητα αυτή είναι σε ένδεια, οι άνθρωποί της απογοητευμένοι που τίποτα δεν γίνεται, δεν αναπτύσσεται στον τόπο τους. Η μόνη τους ελπίδα, η επίσκεψη της πολυεκατομμυριούχου Κλαίρης Τσαχανασιάν (γηραιά κυρ...more
I loved this book!

I am a huge fan of Mr. Dürrenmatt, even acted as Mr. Möbius in "Die Physiker" in a schooltheater group.
But "Der Besuch der alten Dame" was one of those I had in my shelve for too long but never found time to read it. SUCH A SHAME!
This is funny, dramatic and it can be adapted to many situations, especially today, in a time when people would do everything for money.
I read this novel in 2 days, and couldn'T stop giggling while reading. The characters are portrayed really really we...more
Patrice-loup Rifaux
Il y a des pièces de théâtre que l'on a plaisir à relire, de dix ans en dix ans : "la visite à la vieille dame" de Dürrenmatt en fait partie !
Cette relecture décennale m'a un peu surpris, j'avais oublié à quel point Alfred Ill acceptait si rapidement son sort - ce qui d'un point de vue dramaturgique peut sembler une faiblesse mais qui, d'un point de vue psychologique, est sans doute plus profond et juste : on se soumet à Némésis , on ne dérobe pas devant elle.
Cette pièce a été moderne, manière...more
Opera major del nostro, librino che ho perso, forse prestato, riacquistato finalmente e riletto. La scrittura bisturi di Dürrenmatt affonda senza pietà nella bella facciata della società svizzera capitalistica. Attualissimo.
Lascia retrogusto amarissimo.
عالی بود . هجویه ای عالی بود بر بی ثباتی انسان ها و این که واقعا هیچ کس مطلق نیست.
Omar Wajdy
قريتها و كان لي الشرف في تمثيل أحد أدوارها على المسرح
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ricca oltre ogni immaginazione, la vecchia Claire torna al paesello da cui se ne era andata quarant’anni prima, ma la visita – per essere benefica come si aspettano gli abitanti ormai in rovina – richiede il compiersi di un’antica vendetta sull’amante di gioventù Alfred Ill. Lo scrittore svizzero mette in scena, all’inizio degli anni cinquanta del Novecento, una commedia nerissima sul potere del denaro - e, di conseguenza, sulle distorsioni di una società capitalistica – che conosce immediato e...more
Das kleine Städtchen Güllen ist wirtschaftlich am Ende. Seine Bewohner schöpfen erst wieder Hoffnung, als eine alte Dame namens Claire Zachanassian ihren Besuch ankündigt, eine millionenschwere Frau.
Claire Zachanassian ist eine ehemaligen Bewohnerin von Güllen. Vor 40 Jahren hieß sie Kläri Wäscher und hatte ein Verhältnis mit dem Bewohner Alfred Ill. Er schwängerte sie in dieser Zeit, ließ sie jedoch sitzen, leugnete die Vaterschaft und machte aus Kläri eine Dirne.
Ihr Besuch bedeutet fü...more
Um was geht es?

Wieviel ist ein Menschenleben wert? Würdest du für eine halbe Milliarde einen Menschen töten? Diese Frage müssen sich die Einwohner der Städtchens Güllen stellen. Doch zu welchem Ergebnis werden sie kommen?

Was denke ich darüber?

Dieses Buch steht in vielen Schulen auf dem Lehrplan. Da ich das Buch in Deutsch nie gelesen habe, dachte ich mir, es ist an der Zeit auch mal ein Buch von Dürrenmatt zu lesen. Außerdem steht das Buch auf meiner SuB-Abbau-Challenge-Liste, also habe ich glei...more
Der Besuch der alten Dame. Eine böse, von ironischem und sarkastischem Humor durchzogene "tragische Komödie" - die ich persönlich eher als Tragödie bezeichnen würde. Oder als Thriller, wenn man sich das Ausmaß der Dinge mal genauer anschaut.

Die absolut heruntergekommene Stadt Güllen ist in heller Aufruhr: Die Milliardärin Claire Zachanassian - eine ehemalige Güllenerin - kommt sie besuchen! Sie ist bekannt für ihre Wohltätigkeit und so erhofft sich natürlich die Stadt eine große Hilfe von ihr.

»Claire Zachanassian, eine amerikanische Multimillionärin, kehrt in ihr Heimatdorf Güllen zurück, um sich zu rächen: Vor Jahrzehnten hat sie aus dem Dorf fliehen müssen, denn sie bekam ein Kind von Ill, ihrem Geliebten, und dieser Ill hat damals Zeugen bestochen, die beschworen, daß auch sie etwas mit Claire gehabt hätten. Sie bietet der Stadt eine Milliarde, wenn man ihr den noch lebenden Ill tot vor die Füße legt.« [Quelle: Diogenes Verlag]


Wenn ich eines von dem Buch nicht erwa...more
دختری فقیر که به تهمت از شهر رانده شده، سال ها بعد که ثروتمندترین زن دنیاست، به "دیدار" زادگاه خود می آید. مردم شهر که در ورشکستگی اقتصادی بسر می برند، از مردی (آلفرد ایل) که روزگاری باعث حاملگی دختر و رانده شدنش از شهر شده، می خواهند تا به اعتبار آشنایی قدیمی، زن را وادارد تا به وضع فلاکت بار شهر، سر و سامانی بدهد. خانم زاخاناسیان با کمال میل پیشنهاد را می پذیرد اما او یک شرط دارد؛ این که دادگاهی که آن زمان تشکیل شد و او را متهم به دروغگویی کرده، با همان آدم ها و شهود تشکیل شود و بار دیگر رای ب...more
I've had this on my shelf for quite some time (but no, not since 1959) always meaning to read it and was finally moved to do so by an advert from a Viennese ticket office offering seats for the new musical that's been made of it ( ). (Not sure how long that URL will be good.) Glad I did! (But after listening to some sample tracks from the musical, I doubt that I'd say the same about IT!)
Vincent Philippy
3.5 ! The story was really interesting and the author's view on how money is the key to get everything you want, felt enormously true to the society we live in now. I also think, but I could be wrong, that another moral within the main story was that money drives people, even the kindest ones, insane. Let me know if I'm wrong on that one :) !
Elisabeth G. Wolfe
(This isn't the same edition I read, but oh well....)
I dinged this a star because some of the grotesquery is over the top, but a lot of the incidents really are funny, and the overall message is profound. The titular old woman, who has led a bizarrely hard life that has nonetheless left her a multimillionaire, returns to her destitute hometown to offer a bounty for the murder of the man who ran her out of town. No one thinks she's serious about making the gift conditional on his death... no one,...more
This has been such a treat to read. We read it out loud in my literature group and all had a wonderful time doing so. Our theme for the term has been "Strong Women in Fact and Fiction" and this has been a fitting finale to the session.
Marwin Fernandez
This book is just so dark and so direct. I thought that the writer (or at least the translator) would leave a little mystery so I can have my own interpretation, but instead the translator decided to be explicit and direct.

This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Güllen ist ein kleines verarmtes Kaff, an dessen Bahnhof einst viele Züge hielten.
Den Hoffnungsschimmer trägt eine alte Dame mit sich, den sie ist Milliardärin und wuchs in diesem kleinen Städtchen auf. Die Bewohner wünschen sich nichts sehnlicher, als dass die Dame sie finanziell unterstützt...doch zu welchem Preis?

Zunächst ist das Buch sehr witzig, bis sich schleichend die Düsternis hinzu gesellt.
Bobka Van
The best book I have ever read. It's really my favorite book at all, I love it. Everyone has this need of revenge and Claire knew how to do it. Dürrenmatt has done a brilliant job.
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Dürrenmatt was born in the Emmental (canton of Bern), the son of a Protestant pastor. His grandfather Ulrich Dürrenmatt was a conservative politician. The family moved to Bern in 1935. Dürrenmatt began to study philosophy and German language and literature at the University of Zurich in 1941, but moved to the University of Bern after one semester. In 1943 he decided to become an author and dramati...more
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“Ich fühle, wie ich langsam zu einem Mörder werde. Mein Glaube an die Humanität ist machtlos. Und weil ich es weiß, bin ich ein Säufer geworden.” 5 likes
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