The subversive spirit of the post-war years crystallised in a book which the great Swiss writer Max Frisch (1911-1991) devoted to his country’s origins. In “William Tell for Schools”, the German-speaking author stood everything on its head: his hero was not Tell, but the bailiff Gessler.
And, to the even greater dismay of the nation, he did not present him as a tyrant, but as a well-fed imperial administrator who suffers at having to associate with the peasants of the inhospitable alpine valleys.
Then, with cutting irony, Frisch transforms his Tell, through a series of misunderstandings, into an actor who does not really know what he is doing. Frisch’s work completed the revolution in perceptions of the Tell legend and fits in with the intellectual climate of the time.