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Andorra


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A: Max Frisch W: 1946–61 Pf: 1961, Zurich Pb: 1962 Tr: 1962 G: Drama in 12 scenes; German prose S: Imaginary state of Andorra, mid-20th c. C: 9m, 3f, extrasAndri is a young Jewish boy whose life was saved when a benevolent schoolteacher brought him to Andorra to escape the Blacks' persecution of the Jews in the neighbouring state. He is now engaged to Barblin, the teacher's daughter, and finds employment as a carpenter's apprentice. The carpenter, believing that Andri should pursue a more ‘Jewish’ occupation, puts him in charge of sales. Abused and teased by everyone, including a Soldier, his fellow Apprentice, and the Doctor (‘Never met a Jew yet who could take a joke’), Andri is told by the teacher that he cannot marry Barblin, because they are blood relatives. A Lady visitor (the Señora) from the Blacks turns out to be Andri's mother; his father had lied about his Jewishness to cover up the scandal. When the Lady is stoned to death by Andorrans, Andri is accused of her murder. Even though he now knows that he is not Jewish, Andri cannot shake off his ‘Jewish’ mannerisms. So when the Blacks invade and hold a ‘Jew Inspection’, Andri is singled out and led off to be executed. His father commits suicide, and Barblin goes mad. Between each scene, Andorrans take the witness stand and defend their actions.

A: Max Frisch W: 1946–61 Pf: 1961, Zurich Pb: 1962 Tr: 1962 G: Drama in 12 scenes; German prose S: Imaginary state of Andorra, mid-20th c. C: 9m, 3f, extras

This play, set in a semi-abstract world peopled by mainly anonymous characters, is one of the most powerful dramatic statements of the effect of stereotyping on individuals, felt particularly acutely in 1945, as the horrific consequences of the Nazis' branding of Jews as ‘subhuman’ came to light. The specious arguments used to justify the Andorrans' behaviour, while applying especially to Switzerland's refusal to get involved, are of universal relevance.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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