“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.
About the author
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.
Now deceased, Marlen Haushofer lived in Europe and was a native of Austria.
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