Friday, June 13, 2014

PARIS - The Man Who Walked through Walls

The Passer-Through-Walls Or, the Wall-Passer
(Fr.=Le Passe-muraille)



The Wall-Passer Statue, story character, Montmartre, by DG Hudson


Caught in an element he heretofore could pass through, Dutilleul, is forever left to ponder his mistake. It all started when. . .


The Man Who Walked through Walls or The Walker-through-Walls, (various translations) is a short story published by Marcel Aymé in 1943. It inspired a few film adaptations as well.

The character, Dutilleul lived in Montmartre and had just turned 43, when he discovered a strange talent - the ability to pass effortlessly through walls. He asks a doctor about it, and receives pills guaranteed to fix the problem. They are never taken and are soon forgotten, as Dutilleul instead goes to Egypt where he meets and falls in love with a married woman. Cherchez la femme**? He comes and goes as he pleases when the woman's husband is away. He becomes complacent in his ability.

On the fateful occasion, he took a pill for his headache, the wrong pill. The medicine the doctor had given him suddenly took effect as he was passing through the outer wall. Dutilleul was trapped in the wall, where he remains to this day.

Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License
This is a summarized version. check wiki link under references for the complete story.

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The Wall-Passer, Place Marcel Aymé, Montmartre, DG Hudson


The location of The Wall-Passer or Le Passe-muraille is at Rue Norvins/Place Marcel Aymé. We heard the story from our tour guide, an young American (ex-pat?) from St. Louis who now lived in Paris, because guess what - 'Cherchez la femme'. He had met a  French girl and decided to stay.

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Have you heard the story of the Wall-Passer? Would you like this ability? Wouldn't it be great to have one of your characters made into a public commemorative statue? AND, What do you think of the use of the phrase, 'cherchez la femme' ?



**Interesting Definition

'Cherchez la femme' is a French phrase which literally means 'look for the woman'. This is used as an excuse for why a man acts out of character or in an otherwise strange manner. He is usually trying to hide an affair, trying to impress or gain favor with a woman. This expression comes from the 1854 novel and was used in the 1864 theatrical adaptation of The Mohicans of Paris, by Alexander Dumas. The phrase is repeated several times to emphasize the point.

'Cherchez la femme' has become a cliché of detective pulp fiction. It becomes easy to name this as the root cause of whatever problem or situation the male protagonist has at any given moment.
Note: This cliché appears a lot in literature and in real life.

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References:

http://dghudson.blogspot.ca/2011/12/paris-walks.html 
Paris stories - original mention of The Wall-Passer

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_passer-through-walls Wiki

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherchez_la_femme Definition of this phrase

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19 comments:

  1. Never heard that story, but now I kind of wish I'd written it. :P

    Cool that someone was inspired to create artwork to go with it. Not exactly the same, but I did see Platform 9 3/4 while at King's Cross station in London. There's a pushcart stuck halfway through the wall there. :)

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    1. That would have caught my eye, too. It's a reminder of our imaginary worlds. I guess it's a nod to JKR?

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  2. I haven't heard of it either, but it sounds like a great story..and certainly a great ability.

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    1. After seeing the statue, I took notes and researched it on my return. There's always a catch.

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  3. I couldn't help but think of the scene in Xanadu where he skated toward a wall and jumped through it. We always laugh at that scene! Olivia Newton-John was on the other side, though, so most men probably would have given that jump a try...

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    1. You must have faith to run headlong into a wall.

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  5. The art/sculpture is fab! I wish I could walk through walls, wouldn't it be fun!

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    1. Sorry for the late comment, busy with family for a couple of days. I'd like that ability too, Hayley Eszti., it would be great for rescues (a super hero) but a villain could do much damage with that ability.

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  6. Wow, I love the concept of this story! I'd never heard of it before but this is right up my alley. And the sculpture is amazing! Love it.

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    1. The sculpture does catch the imagination, doesn't it? Thanks for dropping by, Julie!

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  7. I am not familiar with this story but wow I must say that I am rather highly intrigued. Happy Friday!!

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    1. I was too, when the Monmartre tour guide told us the story. At the time the statue was done, I believe the author lived not very far away from that little square.

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  8. Oh what a horrible fate. Definitely reminds me of a character in the X-Men

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    1. Isn't it though? You must be very careful 'which pill makes you taller and which one makes you small' And which one gets you stuck in the wall.
      If I'd been him, I"d have hidden those other pills away. . .

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  9. Even the coolest super-abilities have their drawbacks. Like when they suddenly stop working. Yikes.

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    1. You can't take anything for granted, not even being super, there's always something. . .

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  10. I've not heard of this, but it's a very cool story and a very cool statue. As for me, I'll just keep using doors. I'm more than okay with that.

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    1. I agree, doors are the better way to go.

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