The House of a Thousand Floors

The House of a Thousand Floors

The House of a Thousand Floors

The House of a Thousand Floors

Synopsis

The House of a Thousand Floors is one of the earliest science-fiction novels in European literature, published first in 1929. Besides being a pioneer in its genre, the book is highly regarded for its general merits as psychological literature. The novel tells the story of a dream in fever of a soldier wounded in World War I. He finds himself in the stairway of a gigantic (and kafkaesque) tower-like building, which is a metaphor for modern society. He learns that his task is to rescue Princess Tamara from Muller, the lord of the edifice. After a number of surrealistic encounters in the building, during which he is hailed as a liberator by many and is hunted by the cruel security guards, the main character finds Tamara and faces the cruel lord of Mullerdom. The novel makes fine use of a range of experimental styles and techniques. At times, linear storytelling gives way to a collage of incongruous elements: excerpts from fictitious books, encyclopedia articles, radio broadcast transcripts are used as a shortcut to describe places or events; other narrative ingredients include fanciful advertisements, ludicrous administrative documents or political slogans which highlight the idiosyncrasies of this decadent world.

Excerpt

I
It started with a dream · a man on the staircase
· the red carpet · Who am I?

It was a terrible dream. a hollow skull filled with darkness and, within the centre, a flickering yellow light. Below, a game of cards is being played, but the cold is such that colours disappear beneath a layer of frost. and then a wide platform, as if suspended in the air – with a row of people lying on it, all lined up on their left sides, warming each other with stiffening knees and frozen laps. If one moves, the entire chain of bodies is set in motion, the S-shaped links become unstuck, the chain is broken as the bodies turn onto the other side. and there they become glued together again, knees bending, laps interlocking. – But no-one is warmed any more. They slowly turn cold, pierced by a long icy skewer…

Suddenly, a gigantic hand seizes the skull with its infernal vision and hurls it into flames. – the skull cracks open! a terrible, unbearable pain – and then – awakening!

A man woke up from a heavy dream. His gaze followed the sloping ceiling. His first thought was:

Where am I?

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