Raymond Roussel, Ian Monk & (translator)


Out of print.

A precursor of the Oulipo translated and introduced by oulipian Ian Monk.

Raymond Roussel: poet, novelist, neurasthenic, dandy, drug addict, probable suicide, above all an eccentric whose immense riches allowed him to indulge his most outrageous whims, but who spent most of his life secreted in his darkened study producing works whose strangeness remains unsurpassed.

And: “New Impressions of Africa is probably this strange writer’s strangest work” according to the introduction to this first English edition of Roussel’s final creative work. It’s a poem, but a poem unlike any published before or since. Its structure resembles hypertext, endless successions of afterthoughts separated by ever growing clumps of brackets which plunge the reader into a labyrinth at once banal and vertiginous. It took him 12 years to compose, or as he himself calculated, approximately 19,110 hours. The book was illustrated by an artist Roussel commissioned through a private-detective agency so as not to have to show him the text he was illustrating. The pictures are trapped inside uncut pages, and one of them depicts a man peering into the uncut pages of a book.

This is Roussel’s masterpiece. It prompted Raymond Queneau to declare that Roussel “combined a poet’s logic with the mathematician’s delirium”. Marcel Duchamp called him “a great poet” and freely acknowledged his influence, and Salvador Dali greatly admired the illustrations…

A beautiful edition that reproduces the format of the original with its special uncut pages, it includes the French text opposite the English, and Roussel’s instructions to the despondent Zo. The translation is by Ian Monk with the assistance of Harry Mathews, both members of the Oulipo.

Atlas Anti-classic 13, limited to 1000 copies.

See reviews.

2004, ISBN: 1-900565-09-9, 256pp, paperback in card slipcase.
SKU: 1-900565-09-9 Categories: ,

Additional information

Weight .42 kg
Dimensions 17 × 19 cm