On a cold spring evening, a woman prepares a risotto in the Spartan kitchen of a hunting lodge, eats it alone, and scoops some to the dog. The next morning, I made a startling discovery: sometime during the night, an invisible and impenetrable barrier appeared outside, separating it from most of the Austrian countryside. She calls it, simply, “the wall.” When you squeeze her hand, it feels like a window. hitting her with her fist; He carries. You walk past it to determine where it ends. no. (Later, when everyone on the other side of the wall turns out to be dead, and their bodies petrified like “stone,” she decides she’d rather stay separate from the “incomprehensible thing” that happened to them.) stranded She is completely alone. Presumably everyone she knows and loves – her two daughters and her friends – is on the other side. You will not see them again.
the wallMarilyn Haushofer’s brutal and hilarious novel of dystopia, first published in 1963 and recently reissued (with translation by Sean Whiteside).), seems to belong in the contemporary group of books looking at isolated life in our pandemic era, and it does. I could not find a more fitting metaphor for the sudden disposal of my hyper-social, bare-faced life, and the pre-pandemic life. But the wall It is also a sonorous and realistic account of a widowed, middle-aged woman, disillusioned and depressed for the whole of her days, who is given the opportunity to age what previously eluded her: a life of her imagination. In this way, Haushofer’s book is one of the most profound feminist works of the last century.
In many contemporary accounts, solitude acts as merely a temporary escape from a woman’s life. The arc of exile ends when you leave — from a vacation, a period in an institution, or a period of emotional separation — relatively unchanged, and resolutely determined to move on. But inside the whole relentless enclosure the wallAnd the A woman is transformed – physically and psychologically – into a woman free from the constraints of modern life. No longer a widow, mother, old woman; She is someone who is totally dedicated to ensuring her existence.
In Ottessa Moshfegh’s A year of rest and relaxationAnd the A wealthy and beautiful young woman is unable to determine a reason to continue living and withdraws to her apartment to spend a year in self-treatment, away from the main problem in her life, which includes an unsatisfactory relationship with a misogynist. At Elena Ferrante’s the missing daughterAnd the The Elderly Academy’s solo leave is interrupted when she meets a young woman and her little girl; They release a series of memories of her struggles as a young mother, and the decision she made to leave her family for three years so she could live, have sex, and work as she wanted.
As a reader who happens to be a woman, these scenarios seem connectable and realistic, and although they imagine bleak images of femininity, they sometimes feel aspirational. Contemporary life offers many compelling reasons to escape it, not least the fact that my body and the choices I make about it do not entirely belong to me – in my life, this has never been clearer nor worse than it was a few months ago.
Mushvig suggests in her novel that quitting is an act of rehabilitation, and that comfort and pleasure can be found in quitting, in accepting that one’s circumstances are not likely to improve. “My slumber was self-preserving,” says the narrator. “I thought it would save my life.” It’s a somber admission that portends a bleak life: For most of her year-long experience, she subjected herself to a mixture of sedatives and mood stabilizers. in the missing daughterAnd the Leda seeks excitement and intellectual gratification when she leaves her family, the freedom to “run after my own desires.” Although her escape has been repeatedly pointed out, the reader is not familiar with the charged creativity and passion of those years; Instead, Ferrante sums it up as “a confused tangle of desires and great arrogance.” Perhaps what makes reading the wall It is often interesting that the narrator faces the challenges of survival and fights every day to stay alive. The novel is driven by possibility and adventure, a curiosity about what a woman becomes when she is freed from the commitment of family and sexuality — not just for a moment, but permanently. What new pleasures may you discover; What weird ideas might you explore?
the wall It was published two years after the erection of the Berlin Wall. Haushofer wrote it amid the dark paranoia of the Cold War, omniscient satellites orbiting the Earth, the conflict in Vietnam, the highly publicized trial of Adolf Eichmann. The book is filled with a constant feeling of unease; The woman sometimes thought that she could hear footsteps in a narrow lane nearby, but no one showed up. In the branches of the tree above, birds chirp suddenly. She keeps a loaded gun by her bedside.
Nature sometimes behaves strangely: sunlight grows “cooler and harsher”; The creek runs yellow; A severe storm rattles the bells of a distant church, producing a “phantom sound.” As expected, natural forces pose many obstacles to their survival. To search for food or hunt, she must traverse long meadows and steep hills, appearing large blisters that burst and bleed in her boots. In winter, she shivering incessantly, gathering and putting on all her clothes. She had rheumatism in her joints. Later, she undergoes a deeply painful self-dental procedure and falls into a frantic illness that almost kills her. However, it remains mostly quietly present, grounded in reality, remarkably designed, resilient, and even playful. Within the green around it, you find plenty to admire. One summer, on a walk in the woods, I sat on a stone to rest and noticed how calm it felt: “I wish I could sit there forever, in the warmth, in the light; the dog at my feet and the bird hovering over me.”
As it happens, women are not without company. There’s the dog, Lynx, the keen companion of the friends you occupy their cottage (and who were on the “other side” when the wall appeared); despised cats and their droppings from distressed cats; And the cow, Bella, who gets into this predicament carries a calf–marvel, a burden–which the woman calls the ox. You avoid looking at the wall, and in time you forget to even think about it. Instead, she becomes engrossed in the work of taking care of her four-legged fee. Their needs are no different from hers and help her learn to feed herself and organize her days: she and Lynx need meat, so they hunt; She and the cat need milk, so she milks Bella. To produce milk and raise a healthy calf, Bella needs a clean pen, so she harvests and harvests hay from the meadow and stores it for the winter.
The woman becomes the “owner and prisoner” of these animals, the “head of our inquisitive family”. For their part, animals offer socialization, and even friendship. She realizes that their companionship is crucial to her survival. About the cat, “I don’t think [she] She desperately needs me as much as I need her.” She tells their actions and personalities with amusement, closely watching their habits, personalities and sense of self: “You can never laugh at cats, they take it very badly.”
At first, the woman adheres to her old standards of hygiene and routine: she brushes her teeth, rolls the hours, and counts the days, “clinging to the tiny remnants of human routine left to me.” But her habits gradually lose their relevance, and in the end she completely abandoned them. “Sometimes it amazes me how important it is not to be five minutes late,” she said pensively. Her body turns “my curls, my little chin, and my rounded hips” give way to a thin, long-haired figure you don’t know: “I could simply forget I was a woman.”
She has good reason to want to forget. Looking back before the Wall, she sees that she “never had the opportunity to consciously shape her life”, and that she was “a tormented, exhausted woman of average intelligence, in a world that was … misogynistic and which women found strange and disturbing.” She sought marriage and child-rearing because she was led to believe that these things would achieve her; Instead, her husband died when he was still relatively young and her children became “unloved, unloved, and contentious semi-adults”. In particularly bad moments, she more than once moved to contemplate suicide, which she came to see as the only means of escaping her disappointing existence. In contrast, her life after the wall is bereft of the social pressures of gender functioning, and the many forces that have eroded her agency. Misogyny, once a difficult presence, no longer punished her. Instead, she is governed by survival, the desire to go on living, and a new understanding that her life, which was once disposable, is worth working for.
It is the completeness of her solitude that transforms a woman greatly the wall, thus distinguishing its circumstances from the temporary escape achieved by the narrator of Mushfiq, whose name was not mentioned. At the end of her self-negation, she concluded, somewhat emphatically, “Life is worth living.” It is difficult to discern exactly how it has changed. It seems naive to suppose that one day she will never again find life unbearable. This is also true for Leda from Ferrante. After a three-year relationship and a fulfilling, focused work, she simply returned to her old life. “I gave in to living too little for myself and too much for the kids,” she says. “I gradually succeeded.” Of course, that these women could not change their circumstances is the point. By comparison, the protagonist the wall She cannot return to her previous life; Whatever it looks like, it no longer exists. So she burns butter, smelts hay, chases deer, and puts stockings up. She draws tarot cards, invents games, reads and rereads books, creating her own “familiar ordinary state.”
if the wall Offering a feminist alternative to contemporary life, it is utterly austere, defined by constant toil, unending solitude, and the constant threat of danger. However, it has captured every woman I know who has read it. It is exciting to encounter a subversion of the traditional survival story – the kind generally considered the prerogative of men and patriarchal attitudes. in places, the wall He proposes a feminist alternative that cherishes nature. It also guides women as primary forces of change in our lives, especially when the future looms with danger.
the wall It begins more than two years after the appearance of the titular septum. Having lived so long on her own, the woman decided it was time to develop her short daily notes into a complete record of her days: what she had learned about caring for potatoes, and the joy of watching a cat bask in the sunbeams, are great losses and sufferings. But she mostly writes to assuage her fear of infringement; She anticipates her eventual transformation into an animal, “dirty and wonderful-smelling, making incomprehensible sounds.” When you run out of paper or ink, you plan to hide the account so “the weird thing I might turn into” can’t find it. While writing it to this day, she has noticed her dwindling stock of matches and ammunition. Where she was once worried about their end, she now feels calm about her own abilities. She wrote in the last lines, “Something new is coming, and I can’t escape it.”