Furthering my previous post on “places that cannot be left” (“The Captives of Longjumeau” and The Exterminating Angel), I remembered the book Krabat which I read as a child, about a young boy who winds up in a mill from which it is impossible to escape. Everyone who tries to run away wades through swamps all night, only to find himself (at dawn) back at the gates of that very same mill.
And by coincidence, yesterday, I watched the absurdist/surreal film Woman in the Dunes. Its male protagonist is trapped by local villagers into living with a woman whose life task is shoveling sand for them.
Borges’ “Kafka and His Precursors” mentions Léon Bloy’s story “The Captives of Longjumeau“, which, in the words of Borges “relates the case of some people who posses all manner of globes, atlases, railroad guides and trunks, but who die without ever having managed to leave their home town”.
This reminded me of Luis Buñuel‘s film The Exterminating Angel, in which the guests of a posh dinner party are, for some inexplicable reason, psychologically, but not physically, trapped in a house.
Wondering if someone else had noticed the similarity between these two plotlines, I googled “The Captives of Longjumeau” and “The Exterminating Angel” and found A Reading Diary, a book by Alberto Manguel which lists fiction in which “time is suspended”, where “places cannot be left” (what I was looking for) and the opposite, “places cannot be reached.”