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.
- 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.’ — 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.