A burning questionBMJ 2007; 335 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39351.647222.59 (Published 04 October 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:725
- Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor
Great works of literature have meanings beyond the most obvious, and judged by this standard Max Frisch's play The Fire Raisers is a great work. Frisch was a Swiss who worked for a number of years as an architect before turning full time to writing. No doubt unfairly, we do not normally associate the Swiss with literature: who ever uses the phrase “Swiss literature,” for example? Nor do we expect the best societies always to produce the best literature; for what is good for people is not necessarily good for writing.
In The Fire Raisers, an entire town is subject to a rash of arson attacks, so that everyone is terrified by the prospect of further attacks. The action of the play takes place in the …