“The Walls of Anagoor” by Dino Buzzati Summary

The Walls of Anagoor Dino Buzzati Summary Synopsis
“The Walls of Anagoor” Summary

“The Walls of Anagoor” is a short story by Dino Buzzati that can be found in his collection Restless Nights: Selected Stories. It’s about a tourist in Tibet who’s offered the chance to see the walls of a legendary and little-known city. The man has doubts of the city’s existence but agrees to make the trip. It’s a simple story, but also one that feels like it’s distilling something much more complex, and could be ruminated on for a long time. Here’s a summary of “The Walls of Anagoor”.

“The Walls of Anagoor” Summary

Deep in Tibet, a native guide, Magalon, offers to show the narrator the walls of the city of Anagoor. The narrator is skeptical, as neither the map nor the guidebooks mention the city. According to Magalon, it’s a great, powerful and independent city that the Ruler of Tibet doesn’t acknowledge. It does no outside business; not even the King’s representatives can go there. For centuries, no one inside has ever left. They’ll leave at three in the morning, and they should arrive by noon. The narrator doubts the city exists, but he agrees to go.

At three in the morning, they head south in the narrator’s car over the desert trails. When the sun rises it gets intensely hot, with the shimmer creating the illusion of lakes and marshes. Shortly before noon, they come within sight of the walls of Anagoor. They’re yellowish, stretch twenty to thirty kilometers, and are surmounted at intervals by turrets.

There are people camping out along the walls, rich and poor alike, who hope to be admitted to the city. There are many gates, but they almost never open. There’s a legend that some of the gates will open at an unknown time.

Magalon and the narrator stop outside a solid iron gate where a mixed group of others are waiting. Occasionally, someone with a mallet knocks on the gate, which is said to be necessary to gain admittance.

The narrator raises the possibility that the city is extinct. Magalon explains that everyone thinks this at some point but the evidence suggests otherwise. On some clear evenings, smoke from cooking fires can be seen rising from within the city. The most persuasive proof is that one of the gates was opened some time ago. Opinion on when this happened varies from a month ago to several years to three centuries.

The tents empty and the crowd becomes excited as two coils of gray smoke are seen rising from behind the walls. The narrator remains detached and doesn’t understand the crowd’s enthusiasm for several reasons. The smoke has nothing to do with a gate being opened, the crowd’s uproar could dissuade those inside from opening a gate, and the smoke doesn’t even prove anyone lives inside. The fires could be accidental from the sun or set by plunderers who somehow gained access.

The narrator finds it strange there are no other signs of activity in Anagoor—no sounds or people seen looking out. He asks Magalon about the time the gate was opened. It was a small, neglected gate. A traveler arrived in the evening seeking a place to spend the night. He was ignorant of the city’s reputation and had no expectation. He knocked and was let in.

The narrator has been waiting at the wall now for twenty-four years. He’s packing up his things and plans to return to his country. The other pilgrims think he’s impatient and expects too much from life.

I hope this summary of “The Walls of Anagoor” by Dino Buzzati was helpful.

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