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.


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.


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.

Paris stories - original mention of The Wall-Passer Wiki Definition of this phrase