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I'm Not Stiller Paperback – November 1, 2006

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press (November 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1564784509
  • ISBN-13: 978-1564784506
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #255,443 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Frisch's Kafkaesque tale follows the tribulations of Anatol Stiller, who changes his identity only to be eventually unmasked. This Harcourt edition offers the uncut text to the American reader for the first time. LJ's reviewer found this appropriate for large European fiction collections (LJ 4/15/58).
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Readers cannot but feel the force of what remains one of the most important novels of the post-war years." -- Times Literary Supplement

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Björn Benken on May 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
For half of my life (i.e. for 18 years up to now), Max Frisch's "Stiller" - which I've read in German - has been my favorite book, closely followed by "Gantenbein" by the same author, and I'm sure it will keep so for the rest of my life. Why? Well, the "Stiller" is a very rich book with several themes and several "layers", so it has something for everyone. The book has a plot which is exiting in itself, but it has more. There are worked in, for example, some little "tales" which at first glance seem to stand quite apart from the rest of the story, but at closer inspection you might recognize them as little parables which illustrate the emotional background of Stiller who always writes about himself (whether directly or indirectly). The readers are left with the task to reconstruct the whole story by themselves, because all they get is limited and necessarily subjective information. This is due to the special situation the writer is in: he is expected to reveal his true identity to the Swiss authorities, who suspect him to be a long-missed citizen of their town and have arrested him to find out. So the matter of Truth is one of the central questions of the book, and the reader is invited to judge on whose side the truth is. Of course, it is not possible that there is more than one truth - or is it?
There are other existential questions the story deals with: trust, for example, or self-expectation, or the question of guilt in human relations. For those of you who are more interested in psychological highlights than in philosophical issues: the book contains superb descriptions of the Swiss mentality and the American style of life, of men and women and their differences, of architects and prison warders and so on.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Mark Nadja on November 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
A relatively unheralded classic of modern literature, *I'm Not Stiller* is a remarkable text that is part Camus, part Kafka, part Dostoyevski, with a pinch of Beckett thrown in for seasoning...and, almost inconceivably, even better than the sum of its parts! Max Frisch covers all the main themes of modern man's anguish in this novel--the struggle with identity, alienation, and loss of soul, a struggle that those of us who have survived into the 21st century have largely given up entirely.

Who are we? Why are we? Can we really ever change...and, even if we manage to do so, why won't *they* let us change? Are we truly `condemned' to be who we are? These are just a few of the major themes that Frisch dramatizes in *I'm Not Stiller.* His penetrating psychological study of the title character, Anatol Stiller, is both unforgettable and devastating, as are the studies of each of the novel's supporting players. One would be hard-pressed to think of any author who'd dissected the human character so minutely and exactly as Frisch has in this novel. You come away with the feeling that he's as much a psychiatrist as an artist.

Ultimately, *I'm Not Stiller* is a novel about self-acceptance--but not necessarily in a positive way. Self-affirmation, not as celebration, but as a kind of resignation to a wisdom that is as hopeless as it is true, as sad as it is necessary...the end of a long journey where we are surprised ((and not pleasantly)) to find the person we least expected waiting for us, after all. The person we cant escape no matter how hard we try or how fiercely we struggle: our true selves.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By fmeursault@yahoo.com on February 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
"I'm Not Stiller," by the Swiss writer Max Frisch exudes postwar high seriousness; it cannot wait to show off its many layers of meaning. First, "A Note to the Reader" informs us that we are being permitted to study "The strange history of Anatol Ludwig Stiller, sculptor, husband, lover . . . prisoner": the notebooks he wrote while in prison and his prosecutor's postscript. Then come several august lines from Kirkegaard on man's passion for freedom: the need to "choose oneself," rule out every possibility of becoming something else and, in that difficult choice, find happiness. Then comes the voice of Stiller himself: treacherous, evasive and compelling as an Edgar Allan Poe murderer or a Raymond Chandler detective.
He is a prisoner in Switzerland (a country "so clean one can hardly breathe for hygiene") and the Swiss officers who arrest him are convinced he is a certain Anatol Stiller, who disappeared six years ago, leaving behind a wife, a mistress, a moderately successful career and a few minor political scandals. But he insists he is Jim White, an American with a past that includes Mexican peasants, Texas cowboys, the docks and back alleys of Northern California, and three murders, as yet untraced.
Murders are committed, as it turns out, but as Stiller is brought face to face with the woman who says she is his wife and with the prosecutor who says Stiller has had an affair with his wife, it becomes clear that the murders in question are emotional, metaphorical and discreetly bourgeois. What binds Stiller and his strong-willed but long-suffering wife, Julika? A vacuum: the fact that they have never felt happy together or complete apart. What sets his dream of being another man in motion?
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