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The threshold, the place, the net. Notes about Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s ‚Der Sturz‘

Eduardo Grillo

Pages 329 - 343

Conceived during a trip to the Soviet Union, ‚Der Sturz‘ by Dürrenmatt is a long story that stages a showdown within the political secretariat of a dictatorial regime. The strenght of the story is its ability to act as an ironic exemplary story which shows the relationship between power and individual responsibility. Actually, the characters behavior can be divided into three different attitudes: some of them only ‚take the floor‘, while others manage to ‚take a stand‘, turning words into deeds. A different case is character N, our observer: he is the only character who never says anything, limiting himself to ‚taking place‘ in the situa tion in which he finds himself. This is why he is seen as a personification of the silent majority, the one which really supports every form of power, and in particular every dictatorship. In addition to that, the article highlights the importance of the internal vs. external dynamics. The opposition plays a pivotal role at a diegetic level in two senses. First, because the events come to a head as a consequence of the value allocated by the characters to the physical space in which the meeting is taking place. Second, because the verbal interactions outline spaces of inclusion/exclusion between the characters. But the same opposition also plays a role between the narrative levels, that is in the relationship between narrator (external) and observer (internal), a relationship that helps in establishing an ironic distance from the events. This is a key element in order to represent the game played by the degrees of moral responsibility with such an incisive, almost indifferent and surely impressive outcome.


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