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The Wall

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  20,410 ratings  ·  662 reviews
'The Wall', the lead story in this collection, introduces three political prisoners on the night prior to their execution. Through the gaze of an impartial doctor--seemingly there for the men's solace--their mental descent is charted in exquisite, often harrowing detail. And as the morning draws inexorably closer, the men cross the psychological wall between life and death ...more
Paperback, 183 pages
Published April 2005 by Hesperus Press (first published 1939)
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Average rating 4.08  · 
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 ·  20,410 ratings  ·  662 reviews


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Glenn Russell
May 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing

“I wanted my own words. But the ones I use have been dragged through I don't know how many consciences.”
― Jean-Paul Sartre, The Wall

My focus is on one of the book's title piece - The Wall. This existentialist story has the feel of a film shot in stark black and white; the prose is as hard boiled as it gets and is told in first-person. The opening scene takes place in a large bare room with white walls where the narrator, Pablo Ibbieta, a man we can visualize with a thin, chiseled face, slick ba
...more
Alex
Mar 15, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People who appreciate booty/Sartrean existentialism
You gotta love Sartre's sexy objectification of women. I totally think Sartre was an ass man. Exempli gratia:

"Her tail is small, yes, a lot smaller than mine, but you can see more of it. It's all around, under her thin back, it fills the skirt, you'd think it was poured in, and besides it jiggles."

Hell is other people... other people who can't appreciate a nice jiggling booty!

If Sartre was alive today, I'm sure he'd give that comment a high five or whatever the French existensialist equivalent
...more
Khashayar Mohammadi
If I had to pick a single common theme in the five short stories compiled in this book it would have to be self-actualization. Of course Sartre's self-actualization not only differs from the eastern Atman and Buddhi, it damn near opposes them.

Each short story portrays the protagonist's confrontation with the utter absurdity of life; and each protagonist refuses the prepackaged gift-wrapped souls that they've been handed through choosing a divergent path of their own. Some through wreaking havoc
...more
Pamela W
Aug 14, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: children and optimists
Oh you know those whacky existentialists . . . just a typical beach read, really. Early chick-lit. Love the stories, they are colorful and fairly realistic in the way they depict the ridiculous, repetitive or futile behaviors people exhibit (other peeps, not me, of course). I'm guessing that Sartre must have been hella good times at cocktail parties. Wonder who would have won in a death match between Jean-Paul, Al Camus and lil' Freddie Nietzsche? (I'm betting Nietzsche, he was uber-efficient.)
Steven Godin
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Sartre has applied his existential depth to perhaps the most basic of themes here, but it works. This collection of 5 short stories written in late 1940's are a worthy read for any Sartre fan. The first story 'The Wall' is set during the Spanish Civil War with Pablo, one of the prisoners, being the protagonist. The story is one about the absurdity of life and how Pablo coincidentally and accidentally causes one of his comrades to be caught even though Pablo was not aware of it at all. The second ...more
Okla Elliott
Oct 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Each of the pieces in this collection of short fiction has much to recommend it, but the final novella "Childhood of a Leader" stands out as one of finest novellas I've ever read. Even though the title story "The Wall" is considerably more famous, "Childhood of a Leader" is more ambitious and more groundbreaking. Written in the 1930s, this piece explores gender, class, sexuality, homo-eroticism, antisemitism, social-constructedness, and several key philosophical issues -- though it does all this ...more
Hà Nguyệt  Linh
Feb 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Such a philosopher of existentialism, I was thrown into an existential crisis after screwing the short story "The wall" from the namesake book. what I got from it is that We are not allowed to be clean, whether dead or alive.
Arlina
Nov 25, 2012 rated it liked it
Damp hands creeping all over my body; that would be the sensation accompanying me during the read of “The Wall” by Sartre. In fiction, I don’t mind an atmosphere that is oppressive, helpless, absurd or anxious, as is the case in this short story collection. The curious side of me is more often than not bewitched by the subject of human unhappiness. Unhappiness that stems from a realization, that our own existence has a pettiness to it.

Even so, these stories weren’t able to truly fascinate me on
...more
Rebecca McNutt
Mar 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Consisting of a number of philosophical and psychological short stories, this originally-French anthology is one of the most eye-opening yet frightening reading experiences.
Tariq Alferis
Jan 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
..Wow. This book is just something else ,Just read it, amazing book. That's how you express emotions. .
Alexei
Oct 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
If all five short stories, included in this book, have such level of mastery and strength as titular story this would be one of the most splendid examples of literature. But, sadly, this collection of short stories is rather inconsistent. "The Wall" itself ia a haunting travel into inner life and experience of a man condemned to death, brilliant in its depiction of the smallest impulses of human psyche in this extreme (of course, borderline in existentialist meaning) situation and striking in it ...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
Nighttime. The narrator and his companions inside a prison cell, they've been told they will all be shot by sunrise. Sartre imagines how it is, during one's last evening, knowing of his violent end as soon as the new day breaks. I wonder, though, if that was what it'd really be. It would have been better if one who had actually experienced such a thing (and survived) had written this.

The end could be a delightful surprise. Not for me, though, as I sort of had an inkling it'll be like that (had I
...more
ellie
Mar 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: assigned-reading
did u know? im doing a speech on existentialism. i have to maintain my brand of "teenager suffering existential crisis almost all of the time."

will copy and paste my speech outline when i write it.

p.s. just read the wall, not the other short stories (YET! bc sartre owns my ass and i will get to them soon enough)
Jonfaith
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was shocked by how taut and effective each of these stories proved to be. It would be lazy to only regard them as existential. Sex,death, and madness unfold with Sartre appearing rather adroit with his vision and economy. The final story is simply amazing, following a young philosopher—much like Jean-Paul’s autobiography—learning the symbols of existence only to trade and trade again upon prevailing ideologies. The result is a lesson for our time.
Michael
280918: i think i have read some of these before- decades... ago, mostly forgotten, now having read much more existentialism, philosophy, Sartre, and of course many other books, but my judgement is only further defined. this is great work. this also exemplifies the difficult union of philosophy and literature. in reading as probably in writing, there is a constant indeterminacy, a slippage, a refusal, to be one or the other....

as i read a lot, and a lot of philosophy, i remain convinced as an ar
...more
Elena Neacşu
Aug 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
When both anxiety and a strange familiarity hit you like a train. Sartre is too good to be true.
Smiley
Dec 13, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stories
3.75 stars

I first read and found his memoir entitled Words (Penguin, 2000) in 2014 tolerably enjoyable due to my unfamiliarity with his writing style, that is, page after page of lengthy narratives with few dialogs. Another reason is that I have regarded him and his works with awe and trepidation since, as a matter of course, he has been eminently acclaimed as one of the great philosophers in the 20th century (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Pa...). As for me, I have merely been a common read
...more
Devrim Güven
The story, set during the Spanish Civil War, relates the last night of three captives: Tom Steinbock (an Irish International Brigade member), Juan Mirbal (a wrongly accused non-political youth) and the narrator Pablo Ibbieta (an anarchist who would be saved from execution after his falsified testimony accidentally causes the execution of a hiding anarchist leader, Ramon Gris) who are supposed to be shot by a firing squad at dawn.

Excerpt from: Devrim Çetin Güven (2020) Foucauldian “Medical Gaze”
...more
Mεδ Rεδħα
Nov 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fourth cover
- What are they called, these three?
"Steinbock, Ibbieta, and Mirbal," said the guardian.
The commander put on his glasses and looked at his list:
- Steinbock ... Steinbock ... That's it. You are sentenced to death.
You will be shot tomorrow morning.
He looked again:
"The other two, too," he said.
"It's not possible," said Juan. Not me.
The captain looked at him with astonishment ... "

The Wall is a collection of five captivating news, but at the same time repulsive, even disgusting.
The Wall
...more
Naile Berna
Oct 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall I am very impressed with how much Sartre can accomplish in so few pages in terms of story telling. A great and clear introduction, an intriguing climax then a surprise ending and a very relatable perspective to a characters world view under very strange circumstances during the whole time...

The Wall: I am quite impressed with the way the author describes the physical state of characters. I had to stop a few moments to think about how they feel, and how I would if I were in their shoes. A
...more
Patrick
Sep 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french
Sartre delivers an invigorating short story collection about self-discovery and the nature of the self that is apt to change. A human being is always haunted by perplexing questions leading him nowhere. Realizing the absurdity of his own reality in this world, he is subject to different manifestations protruding unconscious actions which make him a social outcast in a communal well bonding society. Power, sexual repression, search for authenticity, and insanity magnify the book and constitute on ...more
Mohammadreza
Jan 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As you get closer to the concept of death,Time and being seems like not to matter anymore cause the only existing idea is death itself.The fact is you can never truly understand its concept and numbness it gives you until you face it for real.The thing which dies right before death is not the body but the mind.you start feeling that your thoughts fly forth from the soul.nothingness remains after all.
Xander
Dec 24, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I somehow dislike Sartre's novels. I did like his Nausée, but the short stories in Le Mur are rather dull and boring. He works out his existentialist ideas into real-world situations. All stories are concerned with identity, responsibility, freedom, existence, living in bad faith with yourself and others. But I guess this is not really my cup of tea.
Laszlo Szerdahelyi
Mar 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: euro-lit
Building on the concepts of existentialism, Sartre wonderfully explores its fundamental tenets of living in good/bad faith, authenticity, the gaze of the Other and of the confrontation of the absurd together with the feeling of existential angst and dread, through several novellas with excellently crafted characters.

I'm pretty much left, especially after reading The Childhood of the Leader, with the following scene from Bela Tarr's Satantango rolling in my head: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z
...more
Guilr
Jul 18, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is my first reading of Jean-Paul Sartre and it made me want to know more about him. It is a touching collection of short stories that will not leave you indifferent. The first story gives its title to the collection. It is about death and how people deal with it when it is announced.
Jim
Jan 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book was a total surprise to me. I didn’t know it existed. I read Nausea when I was about nineteen and watched the TV adaptation of The Roads to Freedom so I didn’t have to read the novels and somewhere along the line I saw No Exit (probably the TV version with Harold Pinter) but that was me. And then one day I ran across this wee gem: thank you Internet. Okay, it’s dated, but Jane Austen’s dated; you work round it. There wasn’t a single bad piece here although I’m not sure I’d want to rank ...more
Joe
Jul 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There's a reason that Sartre *is* existentialism. He approaches his subject's angst with a patience and dread that not even Camus can match. The title story is "The Stranger" in 20 pages, with a real ending. The final novella accurately captures the tumultuous youth of an intellectual brute. And the stories in-between capture love, rage, and pity at their ugliest, while at the same time painting them in a disturbingly human light of reason.

"At that moment I felt that I had my whole life in fron
...more
Ali
Nov 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book is a collection of short stories written by Sartre in his early writing career. Of the five stories, my favorites are "The Wall", "The Childhood of a Leader" and "The Bedroom". The other two are not nearly as good, but those three are enough to earn a five-star rating for the book.

Although the stories are short, you still adopt an empathetic feeling towards the characters; they come out live, their angst is real. Sartre's philosophy is hidden inside his literature. The emphasis that ex
...more
Hullas Arora
Nov 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
How will you react when death stares you in your face? The everyday struggles of life, which were assumed to go on till eternity suddenly seem futile and the angst against one's own existence, the 'whys' of human behavior intrigue more than ever!
The Wall explores all the human emotions, relationships and quest for achievement with the lens of absurdity as the human life stands on the threshold to embrace death!
Matt
May 04, 2020 added it
i have some issues wit childhood of a leader but honestly it was probably my favorite... probably because of relative length to the others i got more immersed. solid collection overall; the wall and erostratus were very well done.
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8,049 followers
Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre, normally known simply as Jean-Paul Sartre, was a French existentialist philosopher and pioneer, dramatist and screenwriter, novelist and critic. He was a leading figure in 20th century French philosophy.

He declined the award of the 1964 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his work which, rich in ideas and filled with the spirit of freedom and the quest for truth, has ex
...more

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