“I’ll call myself Gantenbain” Frisch in brief

The plot breaks up into separate stories, and each of them has several options. Thus, for example, the narrator’s image splits into two different images, Enderlin and Gantenbein, which embody possible versions of his existence for the narrator. The author does not allow to “examine” the fate of his characters to their natural end. It is not so much in them as in the true essence of man, as such, hidden behind the “invisible”, in the “possible”, only a part of which comes to the surface and finds a real embodiment in reality.

The narrator tries on his hero stories, like dresses. The novel begins with the fact that Enderlin gets into a car accident and almost does not knock down eleven schoolchildren. Sitting behind the wheel, he obviously reflected on the invitation to read a few lectures at Harvard, which he received shortly before. He has lost the desire to speak to acquaintances and all others in the role of a forty-year doctor of philosophy, and he decides to change his image, chooses a new role for himself – the role of the blind, and names himself Gantenbayn. He acquires all the attributes of the blind: glasses, a wand, a yellow armband and a blind man’s certificate, which gives him a legal opportunity to gain a foothold in society in this image. From now on he sees in people what they would never let him see, do not consider him blind. Before him reveals the true essence of all those, with whom he communicates, whom he loves. His sunglasses become a kind of element that splits the truth and lies. People are comfortable to communicate with those before whom they do not need to wear a mask, who does not see excess.

Imagining himself blind, Gantenbain tries to free himself, in particular, from the vulgar jealousy that was characteristic of him before. After all, the blind can not see, does not see much: looks, smiles, letters, those who are next to his beloved woman. Its appearance changes, but does its essence change?

Enderlin hesitates a long time before starting to play the role of Gantenbein. He imagines his future life, if everything goes as before. One rainy day, he sits in a bar and waits for the arrival of a certain František Freedom, who has never before been seen. Instead of him comes his wife, a blue-eyed, dark-haired woman of about thirty, very attractive, and warns Enderlin that her husband will not be able to come, because at the moment is on a business trip in London. They talk for a long time, they go to the opera together in the evening, but from their house, where he visits her before the performance begins, they never come out. After spending the night together, they swear to each other that this story will remain without continuation, there will be no letters, no calls.

The next day, Enderlin already needs to fly away from this unfamiliar city and really forever to part with a woman to whom he begins to emerge a true feeling. He’s going to the airport. His consciousness bifurcates. One internal “I” wants to leave, the other – to stay. If he leaves, this story ends, if it remains, it becomes his life. Suppose he stays. A month later, the wife of Freedom, her name, for example, Lily, confesses to her husband that he loves another madly. Now the fate of Enderlya largely depends on the behavior of Freedom, this tall, broad-shouldered, fair-haired Czech with an outlined bald head, as Enderlin imagines. If he behaves cleverly, with dignity, leaves for a month at the resort, gives Lila the opportunity and time to weigh everything and comes back without reproaches, striking her with her masculinity and romanticism, she may have stayed with him. Or, after all, he parted and started a life together with Enderlin. What can this life be like?

It is possible that he had already met Lilia when the herd was depicted as blind. He lives on its content. She does not know that he has his own bank account, and that when she does not notice, he pays fines, receipts, cares, buys her for a birthday, supposedly from his pocket money that Lily gives him, such gifts, which she herself would never have allowed herself. Thus, in the family, the material issue is solved, when a working, independent woman feels really independent. Suppose Lily is an actress, a great actress. She is charming, talented, but somewhat messy – she never cleans up the apartment and does not wash the dishes. In her absence, Gutenbain secretly leads the apartment in order, and Lily believes in magical gnomes, thanks to which disorder is destroyed by itself.

He goes with her to the studio, talks about her outfits, spends as much time on it as no man ever spends. He is present in the theater at rehearsals, supports her morally, gives necessary advice about her playing and about the production of the play.

When she meets Lilya at the airport, when she returns from the next tour, he never asks her about that man, who is always the same, who helps her bring suitcases, because he can not see him. Gantenbain never asks Lily about those letters that come to her regularly three times a week in envelopes with Danish stamps.

Lilya is happy with Gantenbayn.

However, Gantenbayn may not have enough exposure. One fine evening he can open Aida, tell her that he is not blind, that he has always seen everything, and to demand from her an answer about this man from the airport, about letters. He shakes Lilya, she sobs. Then Gantenbayn asks for forgiveness. They have a new life. Returning from the next tour, Lily tells Gantenbayn about a young man who brazenly courted her and even wanted to marry her. Then telegrams come from him with the message that he is coming. Scenes and clarify the relationship between Gantenbayn and Lily. Since Gantenbein ceases to play the role of the blind, it becomes impossible. He’s worried. They speak frankly. Gantenbain and Lily are close to each other, as they have not been for a long time. Until one beautiful morning the doorbell rings.

On the threshold – a young man who, like Gantenbayn seems, he finds out, although he has never before seen him. He leads him to the bedroom to Lila, being sure that this is the same obsessive cunt that sent Lila telegrams. Lily wakes up and screams at Gantenbayn. He locks Lily with a young man in the bedroom with a key, and he leaves. Then, when his doubt creeps in, is it really that same young man, he comes home. Lily – in a blue dressing gown, the door to the bedroom is broken, the young man turns out to be a medical student dreaming about the stage and come to consult Lily. When the door slams behind that, Lily informs him that he is leaving; she can not live with a madman. It’s clear. No, Gantenbayne prefers to remain in the...role of the blind.

Once he comes to visit Enderlin. The way of life of Enderlin has changed a lot. He has a rich house, luxurious cars, servants, beautiful furniture, jewels. Money flows into his hands. Enderlin tells Gantenbayn something to make him understand. Why does not Gantenbein say anything? He only makes Enderlin see everything he is silent about. They are not friends anymore. The narrator arbitrarily changes Lily’s profession. Now Lily is not an actress, but a science worker. She is not a brunette, but a blonde, she has another lexicon. She sometimes frightens Gantenbayn, at least at first. Lilya almost does not know. She expresses what the actress is silent about, and stops talking when the actress speaks. Other interests, different circle of friends. The same only accessories in the bathroom that Gantenbain sees. Or Lily is an Italian countess, For many centuries she had grown unaccustomed to being screamed, breakfast in bed. Even those people with whom she meets, acquire their own style. Gantenbein looks like a count. By lunch Lily can wait for hours, she lives in her own time, and to encroach on him to anyone else does not make sense. Gantenbain can not stand it when Lily is sleeping all day. Servant is done to ensure that Gantenbain is not angry. Lackey Antonio does everything to ensure that the presence of the countess, whom Gantenbain does not see, even if it were heard: knees her chair, arranges cups and so on. When the footman leaves, Gantenbayn talks to the missing Countess. He asks her about who she has, except for him, that she and Niels, says that he once read a letter from Denmark… What can the Countess answer him? .. The countess, who is sleeping? breakfast in bed. Even those people with whom she meets, acquire their own style. Gantenbein looks like a count. By lunch Lily can wait for hours, she lives in her own time, and to encroach on him to anyone else does not make sense. Gantenbain can not stand it when Lily is sleeping all day. Servant is done to ensure that Gantenbain is not angry. Lackey Antonio does everything to ensure that the presence of the countess, whom Gantenbain does not see, even if it were heard: knees her chair, arranges cups and so on. When the footman leaves, Gantenbayn talks to the missing Countess. He asks her about who she has, except for him, that she and Niels, says that he once read a letter from Denmark… What can the Countess answer him? .. The countess, who is sleeping? breakfast in bed. Even those people with whom she meets, acquire their own style. Gantenbein looks like a count. By lunch Lily can wait for hours, she lives in her own time, and to encroach on him to anyone else does not make sense. Gantenbain can not stand it when Lily is sleeping all day. Servant is done to ensure that Gantenbain is not angry. Lackey Antonio does everything to ensure that the presence of the countess, whom Gantenbain does not see, even if it were heard: knees her chair, arranges cups and so on. When the footman leaves, Gantenbayn talks to the missing Countess. He asks her about who she has, except for him, that she and Niels, says that he once read a letter from Denmark… What can the Countess answer him? .. The countess, who is sleeping? Gantenbein looks like a count. By lunch Lily can wait for hours, she lives in her own time, and to encroach on him to anyone else does not make sense. Gantenbain can not stand it when Lily is sleeping all day. Servant is done to ensure that Gantenbain is not angry. Lackey Antonio does everything to ensure that the presence of the countess, whom Gantenbain does not see, even if it were heard: knees her chair, arranges cups and so on. When the footman leaves, Gantenbayn talks to the missing Countess. He asks her about who she has, except for him, that she and Niels, says that he once read a letter from Denmark… What can the Countess answer him? .. The countess, who is sleeping? Gantenbein looks like a count. By lunch Lily can wait for hours, she lives in her own time, and to encroach on him to anyone else does not make sense. Gantenbain can not stand it when Lily is sleeping all day. Servant is done to ensure that Gantenbain is not angry. Lackey Antonio does everything to ensure that the presence of the countess, whom Gantenbain does not see, even if it were heard: knees her chair, arranges cups and so on. When the footman leaves, Gantenbayn talks to the missing Countess. He asks her about who she has, except for him, that she and Niels, says that he once read a letter from Denmark… What can the Countess answer him? .. The countess, who is sleeping? when Lilya slept for days on end. Servant is done to ensure that Gantenbain is not angry. Lackey Antonio does everything to ensure that the presence of the countess, whom Gantenbain does not see, even if it were heard: knees her chair, arranges cups and so on. When the footman leaves, Gantenbayn talks to the missing Countess. He asks her about who she has, except for him, that she and Niels, says that he once read a letter from Denmark… What can the Countess answer him? .. The countess, who is sleeping? when Lilya slept for days on end. Servant is done to ensure that Gantenbain is not angry. Lackey Antonio does everything to ensure that the presence of the countess, whom Gantenbain does not see, even if it were heard: knees her chair, arranges cups and so on. When the footman leaves, Gantenbayn talks to the missing Countess. He asks her about who she has, except for him, that she and Niels, says that he once read a letter from Denmark… What can the Countess answer him? .. The countess, who is sleeping?

Where is the real Lily? And what, in fact, was in the life of the hero, which is coming to an end? One man loves one woman. This woman loves another man, the first man loves another woman, which again loves another man: a very ordinary story, which ends meet does not converge…

In addition to the main characters in the fabric of the narrative, both fictional and genuine stories of secondary characters come to light. The issues of morality, the world situation in the sphere of politics and ecology are touched upon. The theme of death pops up. One person mistakenly believes that one year remains for him to live. How does his life change in connection with this error? Another reads in the newspaper’s own obituary. For all and even for himself, he is dead, because he is present at his own funeral. What remains of his fate, life, connections, the role he is used to playing? What remains of him? Who is he now?


“I’ll call myself Gantenbain” Frisch in brief