The Wall: (Intimacy) and Other Stories (New Directions Paperbook)
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One of Sartre’s greatest existentialist works of fiction, The Wall contains the only five short stories he ever wrote. Set during the Spanish Civil War, the title story crystallizes the famous philosopher’s existentialism.
'The Wall', the lead story in this collection, introduces three political prisoners on the night prior to their execution. Through the gaze of an impartial doctor—seemingly there for the men's solace—their mental descent is charted in exquisite, often harrowing detail. And as the morning draws inexorably closer, the men cross the psychological wall between life and death, long before the first shot rings out. This brilliant snapshot of life in anguish is the perfect introduction to a collection of stories where the neurosis of the modern world is mirrored in the lives of the people that inhabit it . This is an unexpurgated edition translated from the French by Lloyd Alexander.
continued. “Now I’m going to tell you a story which perhaps you don’t know. When we were at Sables-d’Olonne—you were three years old—your mother made the acquaintance of a charming young woman with a superb little boy. You played on the beach with this little boy, you were thick as thieves, you were engaged to marry him. A while later, in Paris, your mother wanted to see this young woman again; she was told she had had a terrible accident. That fine little boy’s head was cut off by a car. They
intimate and made such tender shadows; in the crook of the arm, for instance; she couldn’t stand the English with their impersonal bodies which smelt of nothing. But she couldn’t bear the negligence of her husband, because it was a way of getting himself coddled. In the morning, he was always very tender toward himself, his head full of dreams, and broad daylight, cold water, the coarse bristles of the brush made him suffer brutal injustices. Lulu was sleeping on her back, she had thrust the
the arms of Henri. Your hand, your big hand. He’s proud of them because they’re big, he says that descendants of old families always have big limbs. He won’t take my waist in his hand any more. He tickled me a little but I was proud because he could almost make his fingers meet. It isn’t true that he’s impotent—he’s pure, pure and a little lazy. She smiled through her tears and kissed him under the chin. “What am I going to tell my parents?” Henri asked. “My mother’ll die when she hears.” Mme.
Lucien Fleurier. “What was the third estate? Nothing.” First, Lucien Fleurier, second, Winckelmann, Pellereau was first in algebra; he had only one testicle, the other one hadn’t come down; he made them pay two sous to see and ten to touch. Lucien gave the ten sous, hesitated, stretched out his hand and left without touching, but afterwards his regrets were so great that sometimes they kept him awake for more than an hour. He was less good in geology than in history. First, Winckelmann, second,
bounce back: I can do a lot of foolishness but it doesn’t go far because I always spring back.” He thought, “I have moral health.” But he stopped, making a grimace of disgust, it seemed so absurd to him to speak of “moral health” on this white road crossed by dying insects. In rage, Lucien stepped on a cricket, under his sole he felt a little elastic ball and, when he raised his foot, the cricket was still alive: Lucien spat on it. “I’m perplexed, “I’m perplexed. It’s like last year.” He began to