The Wall

On 13th August, Julian Pölsler’s engaging drama, an adaptation of Marlen Haushofer’s 1963 acclaimed existential sci-fi novel Die Wand (The Wall), was shown on Channel 4 with English subtitles.

The film was first screened at the London Film Festival in 2012 receiving rave reviews. Considered her greatest literary achievement, Marlen Haushofer’s The Wall is the story of one quite ordinary, unnamed middle-aged woman who awakens to find she is the last living human on Earth. Surmising her solitude to be the result of a too successful military experiment, she begins the terrifying work of not only survival, but self-renewal.

I was struck by what might have been unconsciously worrying me the whole time, the fact that the road was entirely deserted. Someone would have raised the alarm ages ago. It would have been natural for the villagers to gather inquisitively by the wall. Even if none of them had discovered the wall, Hugo and Luise would surely have bumped into it. The fact that there was not a single person to be seen struck me as even more puzzling than the wall. I began to shiver in the bright sunshine.

Variously interpreted as an ironic Robinson Crusoe story, a philosophical parable of human isolation and as dystopian fiction, The Wall is at once a simple survival story and a disturbing meditation on twentieth-century history.

The author is most famous for The Wall. She won numerous awards in her lifetime, including the Grand Austrian State Prize for literature. Although nearly forgotten after her death in 1970, she is now experiencing a sensational revival.

The Wall, in the words of Doris Lessing, ‘is a most absorbing story’.

However, to some it has a nightmarish quality about it. Whatever your taste, The Wall, first published in the UK by Quartet and reissued in 2013, is a must read for all those who appreciate literary endeavour at its best.

Discover the book and add to your lexicon of great unforgettable story-telling.

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