Le Passe-muraille

Le-passe-murailleI read the short story “Le Passe-muraille” (luh pass muireye), by Marcel Aymé, in university and thoroughly enjoyed it. Here’s a translation of it in English: “The Passer-through-Walls.” It was adapted as a film comedy in 1951 under the title Mr. Peek-a-Boo.

passe-murailleThe story takes place in Paris’ Montmartre neighborhood. A man named Dutilleul discovers that he has developed the ability to walk through walls. He’s not a bit pleased and tries to find a cure – that is, until his new boss starts to get seriously on his nerves. Dutilleul uses his special skill to drive his boss crazy – literally. Then he turns to a life of crime, each time signing his name “The Werewolf” in red chalk. But being an anonymous criminal isn’t enough for him; Dutilleul allows himself to get caught. Once in prison, he simply leaves when he wishes. Then he falls in love with a married woman whose husband goes out every night and leaves her locked in her bedroom. Dutilleul begins to “pay her calls.” One day he has a headache and takes some “aspirin,” except it isn’t, it is medicine his doctor had prescribed while Dutilleul was looking for a cure. As he is passing through the wall after visiting his lady-love, he realizes that he is no longer able to move. Dutilleul ends up trapped in the wall.

le passe-muraille 2If you visit Montmartre, look for la place Marcel Aymé (the corner of rue Norvins and Allée des Brouillards) and you will find the statue of la Passe-Muraille. He’s still half in and half out of the wall, frozen in time.

51-zmVEWdTL__SL75_Le Passe-muraille

About Patricia Gilbert

Patricia Gilbert is a French teacher. She's Canadian, lives in the United States, but dreams of living in France. Follow her on Instagram @Onequalitythefinest and on Twitter @1qualthefinest.
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