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The Man Who Walked Through Walls (Pushkin Collection) [Paperback]

Marcel Aymé , Sophie Lewis
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
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Book Description

28 Jun 2012 Pushkin Collection

A collection of funny and fantastical short stories, Marcel Aymé's The Man Who Walked through Walls (Le Passe-muraille), is a classic of French literature, loved by children and adults alike.

Monsieur Dutilleul has always been able to walk through walls but has never bothered using his gift, given the general availability of doors. One day, however, his bullying boss drives him to desperate measures, and he develops a taste for intramural travel... The titular tale sets the tone for this collection of ten stories from the great French humourist, novelist and children's writer Marcel Aymé. Elements of science-fiction and fantasy are present throughout this volume, written under Nazi occupation during the Second World War, which pokes fun at the occupiers and occupied alike.

Set in Paris's Montmartre district, these stories have spawned a number of films, including Jean Boyer's 1951 classic Garou Garou, le passe-muraille and Yvan Attal's Les Sabines starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, as well as a musical, Amour, which won the Prix Molière in France before an English version conquered Broadway. Today in Montmartre a sculpture of The Man Who Walked through Walls, created by the legendary actor Jean Marais, can be found in the Place Marcel Aymé, paying tribute to the great author and his work.

Contents:

  • The Man Who Walked through Walls (Le Passe-muraille)
  • Sabine Women (Les Sabines)
  • Tickets on Time (La Carte)
  • The Problem of Summertime (Le Décret)
  • The Proverb (Le Proverbe)
  • Poldevian Legend (Légende Poldève)
  • The Wife Collector (Le Percepteur d'épouses)
  • The Seven-League Boots (Les Bottes de sept lieues)
  • The Bailiff (L'Huissier)
  • While Waiting (En attendant)

'The greatest French writer of the day'
— Georges Simenon

'I have fallen utterly, completely and eternally in love with this writer. And, as with all true love, I am neither ashamed nor afraid to declare it to the world.'
— Nick Lezard, Guardian

'The book I would most like to thrust on people is Marcel Aymé's The Man Who Walked Through Walls, stories which have now become some of my all-time favourites.' &mdash Nick Lezard, Guardian Books of the Year 2012

>

Marcel Aymé (1902-67) was one of the great French writers of the twentieth century. Born in the Franche-Comté of Eastern France, he never lost touch with his rural origins, which influenced much of his work. Initially perceived as a man of the left, throughout his life Aymé espoused causes from across the political spectrum, for example apparently supporting Mussolini's colonialism in Africa whilst also campaigning for the abolition of the death penalty. He attracted much controversy for his writings for collaborationist magazines during the Second World War, and his defence of Nazi-sympathising friends including Louis-Ferdinand Céline and Robert Brasillach in the post-war years. Nevertheless Aymé retains an important place in French culture. He championed Serge Gainsbourg in his early career, writing the liner notes for his debut album Du chant à la une!. This collection of stories is particularly famous, and a dozen of his novels have been turned into films, among them the classics of French cinema La Traversée de Paris, La Vouivre and Uranus.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Pushkin Press; First Edition edition (28 Jun 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906548641
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906548643
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 11.7 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 15,614 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Marcel Aymé (1902-67) was one of the great French writers of the twentieth century. Born in the Franche-Comté of Eastern France, he never lost touch with his rural origins, which influenced much of his work. Initially perceived as a man of the left, throughout his life Aymé espoused causes from across the political spectrum, for example apparently supporting Mussolini's colonialism in Africa whilst also campaigning for the abolition of the death penalty. He attracted much controversy for his writings for collaborationist magazines during the Second World War, and his defence of Nazi-sympathising friends including Louis-Ferdinand Céline and Robert Brasillach in the post-war years. Nevertheless Aymé has remained hugely popular in France, and many of his novels have been turned into films, among them the classics of French cinema La Traversée de Paris, La Vouivre and Uranus.

Product Description

Review

'The greatest French writer of the day'
— Georges Simenon

'I have fallen utterly, completely and eternally in love with this writer. And, as with all true love, I am neither ashamed nor afraid to declare it to the world.'

--Nick Lezard, Guardian

All of his writings are characterized by their irony, humour and realism, and are concerned with unearthing and examining ... the workings of society and ordinary people's darker motives. --www.bloggerel.com

All of his writings are characterized by their irony, humour and realism, and are concerned with unearthing and examining ... the workings of society and ordinary people's darker motives. --www.bloggerel.com

All of his writings are characterized by their irony, humour and realism, and are concerned with unearthing and examining ... the workings of society and ordinary people's darker motives. --www.bloggerel.com

About the Author

MARCEL AYMÉ was born in Joigny, France in 1902. Following his studies at the Collège de Dole he moved to Paris and worked, most notably, as a journalist. Aymé was able to dedicate himself entirely to literature following the success of The Green Mare, a dark satire on sexuality published in 1933. Following the German occupation and the French resistance, Aymé's ironic, and often disillusioned perception of the state of affairs in France during this period, produced a body of work that is still placed at the forefront of twentieth century French literature. Marcel Aymé died in Paris in 1967.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unusual, funny, logical stories 11 Aug 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Ayme's stories begin with unusual situations - a man who can walk through walls, a woman who can exist simultaneously in more than one place - and work out the logical consequences. Mostly these are funny, and then often unexpectedly sad or horrifying, and then funny again. The stories were published in France during the second world war, and endless continuation of the war is usually in the background. The writing reminded me of Robert Walser or Kafka - the voice is normal not writerly, and can flit around and feel like normal thinking. it's very nicely translated. If you like Walser of Kafka or Borges or even Beckett I expect you'll be pleased like me to find Ayme's writing.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic 22 Nov 2012
By M. Dowden HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
This book contains ten short stories by the great Marcel Ayme, all of them new translations by Sophie Lewis. The collection starts off with Ayme's most famous tale 'The Man Who Waled Through Walls', which is about a civil servant who finds that he can walk through any wall. Bored with his mundane life he sets himself up as a master criminal, but like all things, it has to end. Along with this you have tales on a woman who can split herself into multiple copies and thus carry on affairs and get married all round the world, a novel approach to tax collecting, the problems that can arise when trying to get into Heaven, and the havoc that can come about with time, and the fact that it isn't constant.

Reading these you can see the effect of the Second World War and the occupation of France had on the author as this does show through. All the tales are fantastical to a degree but these do show a lot of pathos, and you really get a feel for the characters and their situations. Ayme doesn't hold back when taking something ludicrous and following it through to its logical conclusion, which gives all these tales a certain sense of fun. Continually playing with your expectations and showing how absurd things can become this is a real pleasure to read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Man Who Has A Fertile Imagination 21 Sep 2012
By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The title is that of the first of a set of mostly surrealist short stories in which a man can really walk through walls, and we see the uses to which he puts this gift. A beautifully judged story of just the right length.

This cannot be said of the next one, entitled "Sabine Women", is about a woman called Sabine who has the ability at will to multiply herself with identities that live in totally different locations. Moreover, each of the likenesses has the capacity to do the same, so in the end there are sixty-seven thousand look-alikes all over the world, each of them in some way linked to the experiences of any one of them. Not only does their ability to multiply run out of control (like the broom in the Sorcerer's Apprentice), but so, I think, does the story itself, which is wild and much too long.

The title of the next story is "Tickets in Time". In this one the government has a way (unexplained) of temporarily killing unproductive citizens - they disappear from the land of the living for a number of days each month. They are given tickets to indicate the number of days docked each month, the number depending on the degree of their unproductivity. They come back to life when the new month begins. What would be the effect of such a scheme?

"The Problem of Summertime": if governments can add an hour to summer time, why stick at one hour? In 1942 the Vatican gave relief to a world weary of the war by ordaining that time should advance by seventeen years. What happens to a Frenchman when he suddenly finds himself living seventeen years later with the knowledge of what happened in the interval? And after he has lived for some time in that future, what happens when, for some unaccountable reason, he suddenly finds himself back in 1942?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A personal view. 3 Sep 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Well written, for sure, but I have confirmed my lack of interest in works of fantasy. I can readily see that many others would really enjoy this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I will bet that you do not get it right! 12 May 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a varied collection of 10 short stories that are well worth your attention.
Others have commented upon content so I will not dwell on that aspect.
For me, the attraction is that as you read each story, you will probably begin to develop ideas about the direction in which you are heading.
Beware! The author will, equally probably, turn your ideas upside down.
One tale may shock you as it develops; it is not until the very last sentence that you may be obliged to move into a rethink of something which you assumed that you more or less understood.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars quite a different sort of book 14 Oct 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful book for those who have a certain way of seeing the world. The stories appear to be in the realm of the surreal, but if one believes what scientists tell us - that the world is a very curious place indeed - then what happens in these tales is similar to the odd happenings in the world of quantum reality.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly charming 18 Nov 2013
By Anne
Format:Kindle Edition
I can't comment on this translation as I have only read these beguiling stories in French, but I have fallen in love with Marcel Ayme. The stories are wise, funny and moving. Most consist of a quirky, fantastical premise (magic realism long before it was called that!) and often offer clever dead-pan satire of the pit-falls of life and especially of trying to survive the war in occupied France. And they are often laugh-out-loud funny.
Highly recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazingly unusual work considering that it was written in 1943
A very interesting collection of short stories, translated from the original French.
Full of some very new ideas for the time.
Published 6 months ago by sitges
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent surrealist humour
Ayme's humour is gentle but dark and it does what the best humour does -- it points to the frailties of human nature. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Barton Keyes
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and deservedly famous title story: The Man Who Walked...
This book recommended to me by a dear friend
Margaret Crisp, is a delight, both in its physical printing and design, and in the absorbing stories by Marcel Ayme. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Slim Moran
5.0 out of 5 stars Surreality at its finest
Absolutely stunning. Take a bizarre premise, then run it along the rails of logic and probability and this is what results. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Lulubeth
5.0 out of 5 stars Surreal Short Stories
I don't think Aymes' work is much known in the Engish speaking world. And yet this is a writer hailed by Simenon as the greatest writer of his time. I can see why. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Zoe Brooks
5.0 out of 5 stars The Man Who Walked Through Walls
If the reader requires a series of short entertaining stories that are real page turners, this book comes highly recommended.
Published 15 months ago by acorn
5.0 out of 5 stars Vignettes of French Surrealism
This new translation of Marcel Ayme's collection of short stories was a surprising delight. From the bitter-sweet and sudden ending of the title tale, to the weird and wonderful... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Andy Richley
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable tale for bedtime
Typically french and likeable. Not too heavy and contains a few twists and turns. Six more words is too much!
Published 15 months ago by MoonrakerTim
5.0 out of 5 stars Humour with a difference
Fantastic stories in all senses of the word. Ayme had a very original mind, which delights in language and novelty. Read more
Published 15 months ago by B. Gillie
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