Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

The Man Who Walked Through Walls / Le passe-muraille, by Marcel Aymé

Second paragraph of third story ("La carte" / "Tickets on Time"):
12 février. — Il n'y a pas de fumée sans feu. Déjeuné aujourd'hui avec mon vieil ami Maleffroi, conseiller à la préfecture de la Seine. Je l'ai cuisiné adroitement, après lui avoir délié la langue avec une bouteille d'arbois. Naturellement, il n'est pas question de mettre à mort les inutiles. On rognera simplement sur leur temps de vie. Maleffroi m'a expliqué qu'ils auraient droit à tant de jours d'existence par mois, selon leur degré d'inutilité. Il paraît que les cartes de temps sont déjà imprimées. 12th February
There’s no smoke without fire. Lunched today with my old friend Maleffroi, a councillor at the main city hall. I gave him a careful grilling, having loosened his tongue with a bottle of Arbois. Of course, they’re not talking about killing off all non-contributors. These will simply have their time cut back. Maleffroi explained to me that they will have a right to a certain number of days of life per month, according to their degree of uselessness. It seems that time cards have already been printed.
A friend recommended Aymé the the other day, and I hugely enjoyed this collection of short stories, located somewhere in the space between de Maupassant and Philip K. Dick, all published and largely set in Nazi-occupied France of 1943. In the title story, a mid-ranking but frustrated bureaucrat discovers that he can walk through walls, which brings him both petty triumph and personal disaster. I liked most of them, especially "The Seven-League Boots" / "Les bottes de sept lieues" which combines social commentary with magical realism. This deserves to be much better known. You can get it here.
book cover
Tags: bookblog 2021, world: france
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