Writing Beyond the Border: Max Frisch, Dialect and Place in Swiss-German Literature

  • Marc Cesar Rickenbach
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Translating and Interpreting book series (PTTI)


This chapter examines some key works by Max Frisch in particular, and Swiss-German literature in general, and the problem of the representation of place incurred by an a priori self-translation from local dialect to the more standardised High German. I argue that the necessity to write beyond the border (in Frisch’s words) is an act of self-translation not only to be understood as a linguistic transference that occurs in the original act of writing, but also as an actual deterritorialisation that complicates the appearance of a national or local space in literature. Using Emily Apter’s concept of the “internalised checkpoint” I uncover the power dynamics at play that better explain a tendency towards silence in these works: omission of place names and a hesitancy to betray a point of origin with the inclusion of accent and dialect. This is a result of the demands made for intelligibility by the larger German-speaking cultural area, as well as traditional publishing mechanisms. As this chapter shows, the force of these demands vary and should be understood within the context of the historical and political position that the author holds vis-à-vis the larger German-speaking region. What I ultimately find is that the changing porosity of national borders and the shifting political and cultural relations between nations are reflected in the degree of possibility for the inclusion of place and dialect in these works. This gives a better understanding of what non-traditional forms of publishing might allow for in terms of the representation of place and local languages.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marc Cesar Rickenbach
    • 1
  1. 1.City University of New YorkNew YorkUSA

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