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Die Physiker

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  18,506 ratings  ·  447 reviews
Möbius, ein umworbener weil genialer Physiker, will eine gefährliche Verstrickung von Wissenschaft und Politik verhindern und täuscht darum vor, geisteskrank zu sein, damit er in einer Klinik verschwinden und die gewünschte Kooperation (oder Kollaboration) mit der Macht boykottieren kann. Aber der geschützte Raum ist nicht dicht: Zwei Grossmächte haben Agenten in die Klini ...more
Paperback, 95 pages
Published February 1st 2001 by Diogenes (first published 1962)
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Nov 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Physicists gone mad

„The Physicists“ is a satiric play by Friedrich Dürrenmatt, written in 1961. Three patients in a mental institution, who seem to believe that they are famous physicists, murder their nurses. The play is extremely smart, funny and political - dealing with questions of scientific ethics and intellectual responsibilities, particularly in the context of the Cold War.

Newton - Einstein - Möbius

The three mental patients "Einstein"- Möbius - "Newton" and the insane chief psychiatr
Jul 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Imagine an insane person with an abnormal need to dominate others at any cost. Imagine that person having access to nuclear power.

Imagine the feeble resistance of scientists, thinking that they can escape from true insanity (and responsibility for creating weapons of total destruction) by hiding in an institution for the mentally ill. Imagine the despair when they realise that they are trapped in a system running like a fine-tuned machine to the tune of the Pied Piper, relying on human rats to
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: german-language
Macavity’s Not There

In T.S. Eliot’s poem, Macavity: The Mystery Cat, the protagonist is an accomplished feline criminal who causes havoc and confusion but is always is out of sight when the sheriff arrives: “... when a crime’s discovered, Macavity’s not there.” In Durrenmatt’s play, Macavity is there, in a Swiss asylum, but he disappears into a psychotic mind, or rather three such minds, of the men identified as Newton, Einstein, and Möbius. Three nurses have been strangled - by those who appare
Oct 27, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Manny

The fact is, there's nothing more scandalous than a miracle in the realm of science.

Three of history's greatest physicists meet in a drawing-room: Newton, Einstein and Möbius. Newton has a bottle of cognac hidden in the fireplace. Einstein has just strangled a woman to death. And Möbius is being visited by the ghost of King Solomon, who is telling him the secrets of a Unified Field Theory.

Except the drawing-room belongs to a Swiss insane asylum, and the three men are patients.

What follows is
Dave Schaafsma
Jun 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama, science
"The content of physics is the concern of physicists; its effect the concern of all men"
--Friedrich Dürrenmatt

“If one assumes a story, it must be thought through to the end”--Friedrich Dürrenmatt

The Physicists is a 1961 (cold war) tragic farce or black comedy by German playwright Dürrenmatt based on the 1945 bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. How did the rational and supposedly apolitical discipline of science get us to the point of slaughtering millions of humans? It’s an absurd comedy, until i
Ahmad Sharabiani
Die Physiker; eine Komodie in zwei Akten = The Physicists, c 1966, Friedrich Dürrenmatt
The Physicists (German: Die Physiker) is a satiric drama written in 1961 by Swiss writer Friedrich Dürrenmatt. Informed by the Second World War and the many recent advances in science and nuclear technology, the play deals with questions of scientific ethics and humanity's ability to handle its intellectual responsibilities. It is often recognized as his most impressive yet most easily understood work.
Greg Brozeit
Dec 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I consider The Physicists, together with The Visit , to be one of Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s undisputed masterpieces. A police inspector investigates the murder of nurse who has been found strangled at a sanatorium. The murderer is known, he is one of three patients at the institution who all believe themselves to be great physicists. In his case, he thinks he is Einstein. It is the second murder of a nurse in three months, the first having been committed by the patient who thinks himself to be N ...more
Czarny Pies
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those tired of North Korea and would like to read something funny on the nuclear menace.
Shelves: german-lit
This classic on the great ethical debate that followed the American bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945 is tremendous fun. The question examined is what is the proper course for a scientist who has learned something that is highly dangerous for life on this planet.

As an intellectual issue we have become somewhat tired of the dangers of nuclear physics. Thanks to Kim Jong Un however we cannot forget that in mundane terms the matter is still quite serious.

Fortunately Durrenmatt's contributi
Dave Schaafsma
Sep 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: plays
This is powerful, always contemporary. I was in a production of it at Calvin College in Fall of 1975, with the amazing Thomas Bloom as the The Physicist. I was a Freshman, first play on the big stage, and was the Second Policeman, I think, no lines, just stand on stage for twenty minutes talking to Tim Talen... I was overwhelmed by the play, the production, moved to tears every night. I thought this was an important message to the world, I thought theater was a terrific vehicle for saying it. St ...more
21 points about Dürrenmatt:

Dürrenmatt was a genius.

Dürrenmatt was absolutely nuts.

This is nuts.

This is genius.

I don't think I'll ever get this.

No one can ever get Dürrenmatt.

My name is Kepler.

No, wait, I'm Marie Curie.

But I know I am Kepler!

I know even more that I am Marie Curie!

I must be Marie Curie.

Correction: I am James Bond.

Fuck, I'm nuts.

Fuck, this is nuts.

Fuck, I need to read more of Dürrenmatt.


I am still Kepler.

I am also Marie Curie.

I am
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was ok

„Bin ich eigentlich verrückt?“ 

I had to read this for my german class and I wasn't exactly impressed. To my understanding, this is a german classic and I have read another book by the author before. However, I found quite hard to follow and by the end I had no idea what had just happend. I also couldn't care less about the characters and I'm still not 100% sure if I get the plot twist. Maybe I disliked it because I didn't really have a visual picture. I am seeing the play tomorrow and I will up
May 28, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This 1962 play is part of the wave of pessimism that followed the invention of the atomic bomb, one of the rare occasions in history that the total extinction of humanity has seemed like a real possibility. On the one hand, some thinkers stressed the essential warlike nature of humanity, as in Robert Ardrey's popular books about human origins as the metaphorical "children of Cain" or the famous opening sequence of 2001. On the other hand, writers like Dürrenmatt put the blame on scientific and t ...more
From BBC Radio 3 - Drama on 3:
Samantha Bond stars as a psychiatrist in this classic European farce by Friedrich Dürrenmatt about three theoretical physicists who believe they are Einstein, Newton and Möbius. They are locked in a lunatic asylum and each gets tangled in vicious murders. Amidst all the jokes is a real relationship between a scientist who may or may not be mad and his nurse who wants to save him. The Physicists was first performed in 1962 at the height of the Cold War.

The serious su
This was extremely clever! The plot twists were awesome, and I was NOT expecting any of them! Good, and crazy, fun!
Lea (drumsofautumn)
Dec 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: plays-for-class
I've read this book in school, not expecting much of it - but i was totally surprised.

The story of "Die Physiker" deals with three physicists, who live in a sanatorium for the mentally ill. One of them did a groundbreaking discovery, who could influence the whole world... "Die Physiker" is a play, which teaches us a lesson about the responsibility of science.

I do have to mention that I am really not a fan of reading plays. You read them with such a emotionless thought, not really thinking about
Absolutely terrific first act, which portrays three men in an asylum, each claiming to be a brilliant physicist. It's both hilarious and macabre, as each physicist somehow winds up murdering a fawning orderly.

The second act, though, is something else entirely. Where the first act was macabre and absurd, the second seems intent on providing detailed explanations (which sends the delicious oddity out the window), and tailspins into a diatribe against modern technology (particularly, but not exclu
Sep 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Reread in April 2017
this literature club
May 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely LOVED this book! I underlined like half of the book? because it was way too good! the phrases were so clever, funny and I really really liked it.
Meghan Barrett
Jul 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read the review here:

I first reviewed this play for National Book Review Month, an awesome brainchild of SUNY Geneseo, and have expanded upon that review here. The edition of The Physicists that I read was translated by James Kirkup.

Friedrich Durrenmatt’s The Physicists is a delightful and sometimes silly play filled with intrigue, science, and murder, all leading up to an incredible plot twist that will leave your heart hammering and head swimming from the page-turning, gut-w
Apr 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays
riveting - and fairly short (76 pages) - discussion on the importance and danger of knowledge. really liked one bit where the cycle had come full circle and the "physicists", at the pinnacle of human knowledge as far as they knew, compared themselves to animals in their ability to destroy the world. ...more
Dec 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school
We had to read this book in school, and it's actually one of the few books that I really, really, really liked. I read it in a single day, because it was so thrilling and totally not like the usual books one has to read for school. And I don't think it's just because it's about Physicists. ;) ...more
Apr 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely brilliant! I'm going to read it again tonight. "And to think for this I had to strangle a nurse and learn German!" ...more
The Physicists by Friedrich Durrenmatt Reading Notes 1/09

Setting: The drama is set in a decaying villa that is part of a modern sanitarium in a small town in Germany. The author spends many words with exacting details of his setting including the color—white –of the furniture, the washable, glossy walls, and the fact that there is a prison nearby. He is attempting to adhere to the Aristotelian unities of time place and action.
If I were to produce this play, I would have to closely examine the s
Missy J
A bizarre short play by the Swiss author Friedrich Duerrenmatt. "The Physicists" is considered a German-language classic, posing ethical questions on man's responsibility of its scientific inventions and how technology can be used against humanity.

The play takes places in a sanitorium. There are three patients there who consider themselves to be Newton, Einstein and King Solomon respectively, and are thus regarded as madmen. A police inspector is visiting the medical facility for a second time a


Blurb: Samantha Bond stars as a psychiatrist in this classic European farce by Friedrich Dürrenmatt about three theoretical physicists who believe they are Einstein, Newton and Möbius. They are locked in a lunatic asylum and each gets tangled in vicious murders. Amidst all the jokes is a real relationship between a scientist who may or may not be mad and his nurse who wants to save him. The Physicists was first performed in 1962 at the height of the Cold War.

The serious subject behi
Jan 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009, drama, switzerland, 1960s
Three physicists are locked away in a sanatarium run by the the world-renowned psychiatrist Mathilde van Zahndt, and the body count is rising. Inmates believing themselves to be Albert Einstein and Sir Isaac Newton have each already killed a nurse, and as the first scene closes Johann Wilhelm Mobius kills a nurse (on the orders of King Solomon)who professes her love to him and wants to establish a new life away from the sanatarium. But in the second scene, it is revealed that all is not as it se ...more
Nov 22, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jill by: Brandon Wicke
Our genius is not our own. Everything we say aloud, to an audience, is subject to interpretation, to future context, to the possibility of contributing to something we never intended. Writers or scientists, words are dangerous.

Sharply and smartly, this play explores that idea, coupling it with the unreliability of madness. Do the ideas stand alone; do we have any ultimate control -- not only over what's done with what we say, but over ourselves, proper?

Intellectual as it is, this is no closet dr
Dec 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
I read this because a friend of mine who is involved in theatre told me I would love this play.
Turns out she was right. A short entraining read with clever plot twists. Never thought I'd enjoy a classic as much as I enjoyed this book.
(I read the German original version though, so I can't say anything about the quality of the translated version.)
Aug 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Again a fantastic classic a haven`t read before.Im so happy right know about this present and I totally can understand why my friend loved this book so much. I read it in one sitting because it was so fascinating. ...more
Merci Pol
Apr 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Incredible, unpredictable and funny book with a deep message for the world.
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Friedrich Dürrenmatt (1921 – 1990) was a Swiss author and dramatist.

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 af

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Happy Women's History Month! One of the undisputedly good things about modern scholarship is that women’s history is finally getting its due....
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“A story is not finished, until it has taken the worst turn” 64 likes
“Der Inhalt der Physik geht die Physiker an, die Auswirkung alle Menschen.” 6 likes
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