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1979 1st edition "First edition" stated; Harcourt Brace Jovanovich publishers, New York; translated from the German by Geoffrey Skelton; smaller hardbound in ebony and brown boards with black lettering along spine; quite good condition with unmarked pages; dust jacket good - has small crease inside cover.


Description -

A distinctive feature of this book’s style is the use of reprinted cutouts which the protagonist, Mr. Geiser, removes from several encyclopedias, the bible and other books. It contains some autobiographical elements: Frisch at the time of the writing is about the same age as the protagonist, Mr. Geiser, and Frisch also had a house in the Tessin valley where the story is set.


Plot -

The 74-year-old Mr. Geiser is bored in his Ticinese house during torrential rains. He is so bored that he tries to make a pagoda out of crispbread and categorizes thunder types into a taxonomy (rolling thunders, banging thunders etc.). His sole companion is his cat as his wife had died not long ago.


There is a report of a landslide caused by the deluge, cutting off the valley. Fearing a large slide that would bury the village and man’s knowledge, Geiser reads in his encyclopedia, the Bible, and history books. At first he makes notes and tacks them to the walls; later he cuts paragraphs from the books and tapes them instead, noting sadly that the front sides of the encyclopedia’s pages are visible, but the back sides unfortunately are dissected and destroyed.


Despite the weather, he hikes outdoors along diverging paths. While wandering, he notes his physical limits, and the limits of man’s knowledge and importance.


He notes man's insignificance and meaninglessness (man's appearance in the Holocene era is a very recent event in evolutionary terms). The old man is exposed to the cycle of life and his mortality.

Geiser has to admit that „der Mensch bleibt ein Laie“ (his man stays a rookie). He slowly loses his memory. He wonders if memory was necessary – "the rocks do not need my memory or not".


Towards the end, Geiser suffers cerebral apoplexy that attacks his memory.


SKU: BS69s
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