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The Wall
Marlen Haushofer, Foreword by Julian Roman Pölsler
ISBN: 9781573449069
Book (Paperback)
Cleis Press
$16.95
5 1/2 x 8 1/2
244 pages
June 11, 2013
Awards: NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE


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"Chilling, fantastic, and deeply disturbing, The Wall is a modern classic." —She Magazine

"The novel and the film based upon Haushofer’s masterwork gets at something of the human condition that no other work of fiction does—the truth of yourself when you are the last remaining member of the human race." —Julian Roman Pölsler

The Wall is a wonderful novel. It is not often that you can only say a woman could have written this book, but women in particular will understand the heroine’s loving devotion to the details of making and keeping life, every day felt as a victory against everything that would like to undermine and destroy. It is as absorbing as Robinson Crusoe.” —Doris Lessing

“This thoughtful eco-feminist novel (Austrian Haushofer’s English debut) comments on modern life by describing its end…A woman (who never gives her name) recalls the two and ahalf years she has spent in a hunting lodge, her only companions a dog, some cats, a cow and a calf. However this forest makes a rugged Eden, and the menace lurking in the background is deadlier than a snake.” —Publishers Weekly

“[The Wall] assumes the shape and flavor of a journal…intensely introspective, probing as deeply into the psyche of the woman as it does into her world, which circumstances have placed in a new light. Subtly surreal, by turns claustrophobic and exhilarating, fixated with almost religious fervor on banal detail, this is a disturbing yet rewarding tale in which survival and femininity are strikingly merged. Not for macho readers.” —Kirkus Reviews

"I am almost haunted by this book. The main character echoes through my head with her strength through adversity." —Kissin' Blue Karen

“A compelling condemnation of the society that stifles individuals—and particularly women.” —Belle Lettres

“…A story of survival that makes for great appreciation of the tasks involved.” —The Minnesota Daily

“For those of us who champion the richness of women’s literature around the world, The Wall is a great find…a compelling tale, morally rich and politically vibrant. The images leave the reader with a dramatically altered perception of the substance of daily life. Expansive and haunting, The Wall is a chronicle of ordinary living in the realm of the unthinkable.” —New Words, Boston, Massachusetts

The Wall, written in the unmistakable voice of a self-reliant woman, has an almost silent cumulative effect. And all that silence adds up to something akin to a nuclear blast in the distance. I was impressed with the sustained tone and its ability to gently engage. The story is at once believable and inviting. The Wall is a sanctuary. I found it oddly inviting.” —Endicott Booksellers, New York, New York

“Like The Tin Drum, The Wall is a reconstitution of language and what it is to be human.” —Border’s Bookstore, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The Wall could turn into a stead ‘cult classic’ in the ‘60s tradition.” —Regulator Bookshop, Durham, North Carolina

"The Wall is gripping, please trust me, though why is still somewhat of a mystery to me. How does Haushofer make a woman’s minute reflections of being alone so fascinating? Haushofer writes cleanly and brilliantly, with masterful precision." —New England Review

The Wall could turn into a stead ‘cult classic’ in the ‘60s tradition.”—Regulator Bookshop, Durham, North Carolina

The Wall is a challenging, disturbing, thought-provoking, beautiful book about the essentials in life. A really good book for a discussion group.” —Charis Books, Atlanta

“The grippingly convincing tale of a lone woman’s survival in nature will appeal to many readers of feminist utopian fantasy or sci-fi literature.” —The Women’s Review of Books

“Like J.M. Coetzee’s Life and Times of Richard K., this is life laid bare; the habits of everyday existence giving way to passages of the purest profundity.” —Rod Richards, Bookslinger, Inc., St. Paul

The Wall poses a special and refreshing challenge to the imagination. Its appearance in English is long overdue.” —Choice

“Imagine Roninson Crusoe has landed On the Beach and you will have some idea of what the book is like.” —The Bloomsbury Review

“Thank goodness for Cleis Press, which recently reprinted this book, a fascinating, surreal tale of individual courage against impossible obstacles.” —Square Books, Oxford, MS

“A celebration of the survival instinct.” —Regulator Bookshop

“Frighteningly good. A book not only written with a feminist’s vision but with a novelist’s rare grace.” —In Pittsburgh, Newsleekly

“It is a book that you will find yourself giving to family and friends, and one that you will re-read as your life changes and grows. It is a work of art that changes in scope and meaning each time you experience it. The Wall is a treasure. I recommend it to anyone wishing to be touched with awe and to be held in the hands of a gifted writer." —Gay and Lesbian Resource Center

“More than 20 years after the author’s death, her voice still has the power to resonate. In fact, the book has been a feminist classic Europe since its publication in Germany in 1962.” — New Directions for Women

“I can allow myself to write the truth; all the people for whom I have lied throughout my life are dead…” writes the heroine of Marlen Haushofer’s The Wall, a quite ordinary, unnamed middle-aged woman who awakens to find she is the last living human being. Surmising her solitude is the result of a too successful military experiment, she begins the terrifying work of not only survival, but self-renewal. The Wall is at once a simple and moving talk — of potatoes and beans, of hoping for a calf, of counting matches, of forgetting the taste of sugar and the use of one’s name — and a disturbing meditation on 20th century history.

Marlen Haushofer was born on April 11, 1920 in Frauenstein, a region in Upper Austria. She attended Catholic boarding school in Linz, and studied German literature in Vienna and Graz. Her adult life was spent in Steyr, an old industrial city with a strong working class culture and a history of militancy. She died in 1970.

Haushofer published the novella The Fifth Year in 1952 and earned her first literary award in 1953. Her first novel, A Handful of Life, was published in 1955. The Wall, published in 1962, is considered her greatest literary achievement. Variously interpreted as an ironic Robinson Crusoe story, a philosophical parable of human isolation, and as dystopian fiction, The Wall is currently recognized for its important place in traditions of feminist fiction. Haushofers’s last novel, The Attic, was published in 1969. Her last short story collection, Terrible Faithfulness, brought her the Austrian state prize for literature. She has been translated into several European languages. The Wall is Haushofer’s only work available in English.


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Julian Roman Pölsler directed the upcoming film adaptation of The Wall, and has been nominated for an Austrian Film Award for Best Director and Best Screenplay for the film. He also wrote the afterword for the latest edition of the book.
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