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The Wall by Marlen Haushofer

In "The Wall", Die Wand, a woman in Austria is isolated from the rest of the world. An invisible wall has materialized during the night and everyone on the other side is dead.

The novel, first published 1963 in Austria and now translated again into Swedish, is a picture of the psyche of mankind. Bigger than the fight against famine, is the fight against depression. Haushofer explore loneliness in all its forms. Eventually, the woman learns to accept it as a form of solitude. Her name is never revealed, since it's irrelevant. A name is only necessary when talking about someone, and no one is going to talk about her. She is the only human being. A dog, a cat and a cow become her only consolation, her reason for living. They live in a mutual dependence, and form a community, a we, that seldom is described in literature.

The woman's life is a daily struggle, and there is no chapter divisions to enable the reader's breath. As much as her exterior is changing due to the hard work, her inner self is also going through a change. Her earlier every-day life seems shallow and meaningless, a slavery of capitalism. A civilization critique is a constant theme, and the human population is seen as a destructive force. Haushofer was borne in Austria in 1920, and studied in Vienna during the war. The lack of confidence when it comes to civilisation and the thought of the world as fragile can be explained through her witness of a downfall of a society. She very cleverly describes the unfathomable, surrealistic situation. The inner and outer world is melting together and raises the question whether the wall really exists in a physical form or as an opportunity for the woman's personal development. Perhaps it is a barrier between a life of illusions and imitations and a life, unique and existential, beyond the every-day life that is our existence.

The Wall is a novel of great proportions about existential values. Never has the woman felt så important and unimportant at the same time. Important for the animals to survive, and unimportant for the force of nature. The heavy, melancholy realization about her indifference when it comes to nature is oozing from the pages. On the other hand she sees herself as having become a more clear-sighted person. The philosophical prose is arising the question about relative freedom. We think we are free in the modern society, but the woman is starting to question the world of conventions. What is freedom and who are we when we are no longer formed by the norms of society?

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