Death and the Penguin contains the following quote:

He thought suddenly of Nina and her saying that they had been seeing Sergey off at the station. So he had, after all, gone to Moscow, without so much as a goodbye. It was another brick in Viktor's wall of solitude.

Is this a reference to Pink Floyd's The Wall?

1 Answer 1


The metaphorical use of “another brick in the wall” to mean “a small component of a much larger structure, system, or process” (OED) was popularized by the Pink Floyd song, but long predates it. The OED’s first couple of citations are:

1867   Sharpe’s London Mag. Feb. 60/1   It was only another brick in the wall of separation.
1945   Corona (Calif.) Daily Independent 2 Mar. 4/2   Branding the..bills as ‘merely another brick in the wall of totalitarianism being built in America’, the group..denounced the compulsory features of the proposals.

The equivalent phrase “but a brick in the wall” has a similar antiquity:

1878   G. B. Malleson History of the Indian Mutiny 1857–1858 I.289   It was but a brick in the wall of Indian administration.
1914   A. S. Hobart Transplanted Truths: Or, Expositions of Great Texts in Ephesians 46   He may be but a brick in the wall of society
1918   The Elevator Constructor XV.9 5   A man, they say, is but a brick in the wall of an edifice

So the use of the phrase is not, by itself, evidence that a reference to the song is intended.

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