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The Wall (Intimacy) : and Other Stories by…

The Wall (Intimacy) : and Other Stories (1939)

by Jean-Paul Sartre

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
When I started this book I had no expectations what so ever about it. After I'd read the first two stories, I had to look up the year of publishing (1939) and was puzzled by how current the topics were. It blew me of. Carried away in the story of the room, hunted by flying statues, I began questioning the true meaning of (in)sanity. And I knew I wanted to read the last story called 'L'enfance d'un chef', but was afraid it would be something close to 'Mein Kampf'. But it was much more than I had expected. The sore wandering of a young man, lost between two wars, times and places, trying to find a reason to live on in a surrealistic and seemingly non-existing world. So deep. I truly liked 'Le mûr' as well, twighlighting between life and death, night and day. Also the loneliness and uncertainty of the 'hero' in 'Érostrate' touched me. But I could not grab hold of it. Neither the intimacy in 'Intimité', which seem to me to be the most archaic of them all. But over all a very good book. ( )
  therska | May 19, 2017 |
My focus is on one of the book's five pieces - The Wall. This existentialist story has the feel of a film shot in stark black and white; the prose is as hard boiled as it gets, told in first-person. The opening scene takes place in a large bare room with white walls where the narrator, Pablo Ibbieta, a man we can visualize with a thin, chiseled face, slick back hair and looking a bit like Albert Camus or Humphrey Bogart - a visualization in keeping with the tone of black and white film - is interrogated, and, along with two other men, sentenced to be shot dead. The condemned are taken to a cellar with bench and mats, a room shivering cold and without a trace of warmth or humanity. The story unfolds here in the cellar room that's hard and dank and ugly. Absurdity and despair, anyone?

Sartre has us live through the evening and night with Pablo and the two other convicted men: Tom, who has a thick neck and is fat around the middle (Pablo imagines bullets or bayonets cutting into his flesh), and Juan, who is young and has done nothing, other than being the brother of someone wanted by the authorities. We watch as Pablo and Tom and Juan turn old and gray; we smell urine when Tom unconsciously wets his pants; we hear Tom saying how he heard men were executed by being run over by trucks to save ammunition.

A doctor enters the room and offers cigarettes and asks if anyone wants a priest. No one answers. Pablo falls asleep and wakes, having no thought of death or fear - what he is confronting is nameless; his reaction is physical - his cheeks burn and his head aches. Meanwhile, the doctor, referred to as the Belgian by Pablo, takes Juan's pulse and writes in his notebook. All is clinical; all is calculating. The cold penetrates - the doctor looks blue. Pablo sees that he himself is drenched in sweat. Sartre has written philosophical works such as Being and Nothingness where he deals with the meaninglessness of life and the reality of death in conceptual terms. In this story, his ideas are given flesh and blood.

The core of this story is everyone dealing with their own death. Tom talks so he can recognize himself --- talk as a way of anchoring his sense of self in the world. He says something is going to happen he doesn't understand: death is a blank for Tom. And also for Pablo, who observes the doctor entered the cellar to watch bodies, bodies dying in agony while still alive. Pablo remembers living as if immortal and reflects he spent his life counterfeiting eternity but he understood nothing although he missed nothing. Meanwhile, Tom touches the wooden bench as if touching death. Now that Pablo is looking at things through the lens of death, objects appear less dense -- several hours or several years are all the same when you have lost the illusion of being eternal. Pablo feels a horrible calm, a distance from his body; being with his body feels as if he is tied to an enormous vermin. Feeling your body as an enormous vermin - what disgust and alienation. Just in case you are wondering if this is existentialism - this is existentialism.

The Doctor lets everyone know it is 3:30. At the mention of the time, Juan loses it and become hysterical but Pablo simply wants to die cleanly. After some time, the guards come and take away Tom and Juan. Pablo hears shots fired out in the yard and wants to scream, but rather gritts his teeth and pushes his hands in his pockets to stay clean. What does it mean to die cleanly? We are not given anything more specific. Pablo is taken to the first floor where he is given a chance to live by revealing the whereabouts of one Ramon Gris. What happens from this point offers a twist, a twist, that is, for a tale soaking in absurdity, dread, alienation and death. Please order a copy of this book and read The Wall. You will be chilled; you will have an existentialist experience, you just might laugh so hard at the end you will start to cry. ( )
  GlennRussell | Feb 16, 2017 |
I bought this book about a year ago, when I was in the midst of ending a horrible short-lived relationship and felt rather existentialist, though I feel "rather existentialist" on a regular basis, so that's not saying much. The slim volume includes five short stories by Sartre, and of those The Childhood of a Leader is my favorite by far. I would suggest this as bedtime reading if you have a somber side, or else bathtub reading if you adopt a more cheerful attitude toward life. ( )
  Seven.Stories.Press | Jun 13, 2014 |
Title story is a interesting complement to The Stranger. ( )
  dan.ostermeier | Oct 2, 2013 |
"Ninguna vida tenía valor. Se iba a colocar a un hombre frente a un muro y a tirar sobre él hasta que reventara..." ( )
  darioha | Jan 28, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (33 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jean-Paul Sartreprimary authorall editionscalculated
Alexander, LloydTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lijsen, C.N.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
Intimacy (Lloyd Alexander translation): Lulu slept naked because she liked to feel the sheets carressing her body and also because laundry was expensive.
Lulu slept naked because she liked the feel the sheets caressing her body and also because laundry was expensive.
The Wall (Lloyd Alexander translation): They pushed us into a big white room and I began to blink because the light hurt my eyes.
The Room (Lloyd Alexander translation): Mme Darbédat a rahat-loukoum between her fingers. She brought it carefully to her lips and held her breath, afraid that the fine dust of sugar that powdered it would blow away.
Erostratus (Lloyd Alexander translation): You really have to see men from above.
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5 stories: Intimacy; The wall; The room; Erostratus; The childhood of a leader.
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Five stories:

From the back cover of the Berkeley Medallion edition:
"INTIMACY reveals a forbidden world which is perverse, shocking, diabolical--unlike anything you have ever met on the printed page, but a startling reflection of life as you know it...
Here is a portrait of life seen from new and revealing angles, in which the human soul is stripped of its civilized veneer, and layers of experience are peeled back with ferocious skill--to reveal the depths of the private obsessions, sensualities and neuroses of our time, and the overwhelming evil to which modern man can descend."
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