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His most renown play, The Visit, is a consummate, alarming Dürrenmatt blend of hilarity, horror, and vertigo.
The Visit (Agee translation)
978-0-8021-4426-3 • $16.00 • Paperback • Sep. 2010
Guellen’s residents boast that Brahms composed a quartet when he visited and Goethe once slept there, but by the time of Freidrich Dürrenmatt’s The Visit, the town has fallen on hard times, its factories shuttered and its residents living on the dole. When prodigal daughter Claire Zachanassian returns, the townspeople hope the millionaires will restore Guellen to its past glory. But the eccentric millionairess, traveling with an entourage that includes husbands (numbers 7, 8 and 9), blind eunuchs, and a black panther, offers them a Faustian bargain and it becomes clear that the town’s financial salvation will come with a high moral price.
Dürrenmatt’s play has the sweep of a Greek tragedy yet is set in a contemporary, dying industrial town; its unemployed serve as a chorus for our age. When the world’s richest woman makes an offer that is hard to refuse, we witness “a community slowly yielding to temptation” and what was at first unthinkable comes to be seen as inevitable.