Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 December 2013
In Frisch's narrative Montauk (1975), various memories and episodes from the narrator's life are alternately presented from a first-person and a third-person point of view. throughout the text, the writing process of this specific book, and of literature in general, are negotiated in a self-referential discourse. The time frames change frequently. Fragmentary and constantly shifting memories that reach back into childhood are interwoven with a present-day plot set in the United States. This plot shows the sixty-two-year-old narrator “Max” in 1974 with Lynn, a young American woman whom he met at his New York publisher's office and with whom he spends a few days in New York City and a weekend at the shore, in Montauk, on the far eastern end of Long island.
The work's narrative structure is highly complex. The pages written in the past tense are partially grouped according to thematic clusters and partially follow a loose associative pattern. The thematic segments present aspects of the life of “Max,” a Swiss writer, in brief episodes or diachronically under thematic titles such as “architecture” or “fame,” and shed light on his experiences and character traits. Another technique of weaving the diverse segments together uses subtle associations that are triggered by persons, places, objects, time references, questions, single words, and quotations, associations that establish parallels between the present and a remembered past. Particularly memories of other people are interwoven in an associative manner. They provide connections to the narrated time in Montauk.