Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Friday, July 15, 2016

"The Problem of Summer Time" by Marcel Ayme (1943,

During Paris in July 2015 I read my first work by Marcel Aymé, his very famous short story, "The Man Who Could Walk Through Walls".  Earlier this year I read, but did not post upon, another wonderful short story from the same collection, "Sabine Wives".  His stories are not easy to classify, there are elements of Surralism and Science Fiction but over all I think most would see them as in the tradition of Magic Realism.  

"The Problem of Summer Time" is set in Paris in 1943, the city is occupied by the Germans.  Whatever his politics were, the narrator like everyone else in Paris keeps wishing time will speed forward and let these bad times be over.  One day the narrator wakes up and the Germans are gone.  It is 1959, his wife is 16 years older and he has also aged, he lives in a place he does not recognize and strangest of all he has a ten year old son and eight year old daughter he does not know anything about.  No one but him seems to notice anything odd or sense the missing years.   Soon he begins to seemingly travel back and forth between times.  He is not sure if this is real, it certainly is depicted as so, or a wish fulfillment based delusion.

This is a very well done story.  Anyone who has ever wished for something to be over can relate to the elegant narration.

Marcel Aymé (1902-67) was one of the great French writers of the twentieth century. Born in the Franche-Comté of Eastern France, he never lost touch with his rural origins, which influenced much of his work. Initially perceived as a man of the left, throughout his life Aymé espoused causes from across the political spectrum, for example apparently supporting Mussolini's colonialism in Africa whilst also campaigning for the abolition of the death penalty. He attracted much controversy for his writings for collaborationist magazines during the Second World War, and his defence of Nazi-sympathising friends including Louis-Ferdinand Céline and Robert Brasillach in the post-war years. Nevertheless Aymé retains an important place in French culture. He championed Serge Gainsbourg in his early career, writing the liner notes for his debut album Du chant à la une!. This collection of stories is particularly famous, and a dozen of his novels have been turned into films, among them the classics of French cinema La Traversée de ParisLa Vouivre and Uranus.  From Puskin Press Webpage

My posts so far for Paris in July, 2016

1.  The Dogs and the Wolves by Iréne Nemirovsky 

2.  Mavis Gallant -  Two Set in Paris works, a short story and a note book entry

3.  Five Nights in Paris by John Baxter.

4.  The Little Paris Book Store by Nina George

5.  "The Problem of Summer Time" by Marcel Ayme

There are a number of other stories in the Pushkin collection, I hope to once again post on Ayme during Paris in July 2017.

Mel us


Fred said...

Mel u,

Just what I needed, another name on my search list. I had never heard of him, so thanks for bring him to my attention.

Mel u said...

Fred, I hope your local library has a copy of this. Thanks for the comment

Fred said...

Mel u,

Unfortunately the local library doesn't have a copy, but I should be able to get it through InterLibraryLoan.