Writing through the occupation : Marcel Aymsʹe's Le-Passe-muraille / by Jonathan Horn.
Published in 1943, Le passe-muraille stands as one of Marcel Ayme's most important literary contributions, especially in light of its historical context. The ten stories of the collection, many of which feature Ayme's trademark strategy, that of blending the fantastic and the real, translate the profound ambiguities of feeling among the French living under the occupation while offering his readers a space of ultimate freedom within the world of literature. Ayme is at once a journalist who chronicles and reports, and a storyteller who conjures through the power of the imagination. These pieces, often set in Ayme's own Montmartre, are populated by ordinary people who find themselves within extraordinary circumstances, just as the ordinary people of France found themselves within the extraordinary circumstances of the occupation: a low-level functionary discovers he can walk through walls, a housewife becomes a self-cloning pleasure-seeker, a man who ultimately cannot escape the war via a leap in time, an entire population whose very lives are rationed. Like Maurice Blanchot, whose political voice migrated completely into the world of literature just prior to the war, Ayme, no longer able to exploit a free press, took his journalism into the space of fiction and reported from there. But more importantly, he acted from there, inviting his readers to engage with him in a phosphorescence of living History whereby they "plot together" to achieve a conjural control through a process that restores freedom to a population immured by the intense ambiguities symptomatic of the occupation. Ayme acted in the world of literature in a manner that forms a bridge between Sartre's notion of the responsibility to act and the surrealist vision of acting through the imagination. The stories of Le passe-muraille offer a space of fluidity which is a detour, ultimately delivering the reader back to the world, perhaps better able to cope with the never-ending dance with death.
Record last modified: 2018-05-22 11:47:00
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