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Max Frisch: Montauk (Montauk)

Montauk looks as though it might be a Swiss name but actually it is an Indian name for a place at the tip of Long Island, about a hundred miles from Manhattan. The story of this book takes place during a weekend in Montauk. As Frisch says at the beginning of the book, he does not intend to invent anything, merely recount a series of factual events. So bin ich selbst, Leser, der einzige Inhalt meines Buches. [So I myself, reader, am the only content of my book.] He spends the weekend with the thirty-one year old Lynn (he is sixty-one at the time) but thinks back to his first wife, Käte, his second wife, Marianne and the writer Ingeborg Bachmann with whom he had a troubled three year relationship. Of course, this is all a confessional – his failure in his relationships, particularly with women (including Lynn), his ambiguous role as a famous writer and the fact that he is getting nearer death. Naturally, there is the old theme of what is truth and what is reality (he maintains that Lynn is only a weekend fling when, in reality, they later lived together) and the author as writer and author as character is one other writers have struggled with, not always successfully. In this story, Frisch is somewhat uncomfortable with this dual role and, ultimately, he leaves us uncomfortable.

Publishing history

First published in German 1975 by Suhrkamp
First English translation 1976 by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich
Translated by Geoffrey Skelton