The Wall

The Wall (Die wand)

Friday, April 25 - 4pm
At the Alliance Française Auditorium

Marlen Haushofer (11 April 1920 — 21 March 1970) was an Austrian author rewarded by many literary awards. She published her first novel, A Handful of Life, in 1955. In 1956, she won the Theodor-Körner Prize for early contributions and projects involving art and culture.

The Wall, considered as her finest achievement, came out in 1963. The novel was composed four times over in longhand between 1960 and 1963, but had to wait until 1968 to be printed.

Her overall addition to Austrian literature, as well as her last short-story collection, Terrible Faithfulness, earned her a Grand Austrian State Prize for literature in 1968. Her writing has influenced authors like Nobel Prize winner Elfriede Jelinek, who dedicated one of her Princess Plays to Haushofer.

“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.

Originally published in German in 1963, The Wall rose to literary fame worldwide and remained the Austrian author’s most notable and enigmatic work. In 2012, director Julian Pölsler managed the impossible and interpreted The Wall for the big screen, with German actor Martina Gedeck excelling in the lead. The screening (German audio with English subtitles) will follow the discussion.

Copies of the book can be ordered online (print or e-book) via or at your local bookstore. Rental copies are to be available at Vancouver Public Libraries, University Libraries, as well as via interlibrary loan.

Admission is free, but please register by e-mail: