- (1921 - 90) Swiss dramatist and writer, considered oneof the most important German-language playwrights of the post-war era.His first play, It Is Written (1947), demonstrated his indebtedness tothe methods of Brecht and the expressionists. Subsequently he established hisreputation with a series of black comedies on such themes as human greed,hypocrisy, and cruelty. The Blind Man (1948), Romulus the Great(1949), and The Marriage of Mr Mississippi (1952) shared the same senseof futility and desperation as other absurdist plays (see Absurd,Theatre of the), but were distinguished by their clever use oftheatrical technique, which made them popular attractions in New York andLondon.
His best-known plays are The Visit (Der Besuchder alten Dame; 1956), about a rich old woman's revenge on herhometown for wrongs done to her many years before, and The Physicists(1962), a grotesque tragicomedy in which several fugitive scientistshide themselves in a lunatic asylum.
From the late 1960s Dürrenmatt turned increasingly tothe novel, publishing a number of experimental works that incorporatespeculative essays on politics, philosophy, and science. His otherwritings include several treatises upon the theater, plays for radio,and a number of detective novels.