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Peter Bichsel: Die Jahreszeiten [The Seasons]

This one is an interesting experiment – think Nouveau roman – but doesn’t really quite work. It is a sort of a novel about a narrator writing a novel about a fictitious person called Kieninger. The narrator is having difficulty telling his story. He describes the building where Kieninger lives, the tenants who also live there and various events that take place in the building and tries to tie all these different pieces together. But he is having difficulty, so he tries various scenarios but cannot create a convincing character or a convincing story. Yet, despite the fact that Kieninger is his fictitious creation, Kieninger is also treated as an actual character, with the narrator saying that the Kieninger is unaware of various events that have taken place off-scene. As a result, despite the narrator and his concerns, a sort of novel does come into being and Kieninger does become a character. Unfortunately, the narrator has not realised this and dumps Kieninger. Clever, Pirandelloesque, but it somehow lacks that special something.

Publishing history

First published in German 1967 by Luchterhand
No English translation
Published in Dutch as De jaargetijden by Meulenhoff in 1969
Translated by Nini Brunt
Published in Italian as Le stagioni by Edizioni Gottardo in 1981
Translated by Margareth Lust
Published in French as Les saisons by Gallimard in 1992
Translated by Mathilde Camhi
Also published in Danish, Korean, Polish and Swedish