Swiss literature


Swiss literature

      properly, the writings in the only language peculiar to Switzerland, the Rhaeto-Romanic (Rhaetian dialects) dialect known as Romansh, though broadly it includes all works written by Swiss nationals in any of the three other languages of their country: German, French, and Italian, or the Swiss dialect forms of any one of them. It also should be noted that the earliest literature produced in Switzerland was written in Latin.

      Treated here are the writings in Romansh and Swiss dialects. For information about all other manifestations of Swiss literature, see Latin literature; German literature; French literature; Italian literature.

      Romansh (Romansh language) literature was in its origins predominantly ecclesiastical, and began in the Middle Ages. The Reformation gave it new life. In 1560 a fine translation of the New Testament was published; in 1679 the entire Bible was translated by J.A. Vulpius and J. Dorta. There is also a rich variety of popular songs, especially of the religious and political kind. Owing to its geographical distribution Romansh literature is essentially regional in character. Nevertheless, the anthologist Caspar Decurtins; the poets Peider Lansel, Jon Guidon, and Artur Caflisch; and the prose fiction writer Giachen Michel Nay have achieved decidedly more than a merely local fame in the 20th century.

      The fortunes of Swiss dialect literature vary according to the language situation in each section of the country. In the Ticino, dialect literature is produced with much devotion but has been of little consequence. In the French-speaking part of the country the local dialects are on the wane. The important instances of dialect literature there belong to the past, such as the Genevan (Geneva) ballads commemorating the victory of the escalade in 1602. International fame was achieved by the various ranz des vaches (melodies sung, or played on the alphorn, by herdsmen).

      Dialect literature flourishes mainly in the German-speaking part of the country, chiefly because there the people, regardless of social rank and education, consistently use dialect for everyday purposes. The existence of numerous local idioms might even produce an ever-increasing variety of dialect writings. This, however, would be at cross-purposes with the determination of writers and readers to remain on common ground with German literature as a whole. Some of the best poets have expressed themselves both in High German and in their dialect. Thus, Adolf Frey (Frey, Adolf) published a volume of poems in the dialect of the Aargau (Duss und underm Rafe, 1891), and Meinrad Lienert wrote several poems in the dialect of Schwyz. Almost every canton has its Mundartdichter, or local poet. There are vigorous novels in the Bernese dialect by the 20th-century writers Rudolf von Tavel and Simon Gfeller. Schaffhausen is represented in the novels of Albert Bächtold, and Joseph Reinhart wrote in the dialect of Solothurn.

Additional Reading
Alex Natan (ed.), Swiss Men of Letters (1970); and John L. Flood (ed.), Modern Swiss Literature: Unity and Diversity (1985).

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Swiss literature — There is no such thing as a Swiss national vernacular literature, properly speaking. But there are four branches which make up a literature of Switzerland, according to the language in which the works are composed. As the Confederation, from its… …   Wikipedia

  • Literature by country — History of Literature Bronze Age literature Sumerian Egyptian Akkadian Classical literatures …   Wikipedia

  • Swiss Standard German — is one out of four official languages in Switzerland, besides Romansh, French and Italian. It is a variety of Standard German, used in the German speaking part of Switzerland, mainly written, rather rarely spoken.Spoken Swiss Standard German must …   Wikipedia

  • literature — /lit euhr euh cheuhr, choor , li treuh /, n. 1. writings in which expression and form, in connection with ideas of permanent and universal interest, are characteristic or essential features, as poetry, novels, history, biography, and essays. 2.… …   Universalium

  • Swiss German — Infobox Language name=Swiss German nativename=Schwyzerdütsch familycolor=Indo European pronunciation= [ʃvitsəɾd̥ytʃ] states=Switzerland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Austria (Vorarlberg) region=Europe speakers=4,500,000 fam2=Germanic fam3=West Germanic… …   Wikipedia

  • Swiss copyright law — The copyright law of Switzerland is based on the concept of author s rights ( Urheberrecht in German, droit d auteur in French), which is similar to the French copyright law, instead of the concept of Copyright used in common law jurisdictions.… …   Wikipedia

  • Swiss Alps — Satellite image of Switzerland in October 2002. On the north side of the Alps, the regions located above 2000 m are covered by snow. The canton of Ticino (on the south side) is almost snow free in early autumn. The Swiss Alps (German: Schweizer… …   Wikipedia

  • Swiss emigration to Russia — There was significant emigration of Swiss people to the Russian Empire from the late 17th to the late 19th century. Rauber (1985) estimates that a number of 50,000 to 60,000 Swiss lived in Russia between roughly 1700 and 1917. The late 18th and… …   Wikipedia

  • Swiss Medical Digest — article issues|orphan=December 2007 wikify=December 2007 unreferenced=December 2007 cleanup=December 2007Swiss Medical Digest was a series of 10 medical journals was introduced in Switzerland by publisher Robert G. Coenen in 1977. The journals… …   Wikipedia

  • Swiss referendum, June 2008 — A referendum on three questions was held in Switzerland on 1 June 2008: * people s initiative against publicly funded information campaigns by the government, also known as the muzzle initiative ; * people s initiative for democratic… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.