Raymond Roussel and the Republic of Dreams

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9780801438646: Raymond Roussel and the Republic of Dreams

Raymond Roussel, one of the most outlandishly compelling literary figures of modern times, died in mysterious circumstances at the age of fifty-six in 1933. The story Mark Ford tells about Roussel's life and work is at once captivating, heartbreaking, and almost beyond belief. Could even Proust or Nabokov have invented a character as strange and memorable as the exquisite dandy and graphomaniac this book brings to life?Roussel's poetry, novels, and plays influenced the work of many well-known writers and artists: Jean Cocteau found in him "genius in its pure state," while Salvador Dalí, who died with a copy of Roussel's Impressions d'Afrique on his bedside table, believed him to be one of France's greatest writers ever. Edmond Rostand, Marcel Duchamp, André Breton, Michel Foucault, and Alain Robbe-Grillet all testified to the power of his unique imagination.By any standards, Roussel led an extraordinary life. Tremendously wealthy, he took two world tours during which he hardly left his hotel rooms. He never wore his clothes more than twice, and generally avoided conversation because he dreaded that it might turn morbid. Ford, himself a poet, traces the evolution of Roussel's bizarre compositional methods and describes the idiosyncrasies of a life structured as obsessively as Roussel structured his writing.

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Review:

"Mark Ford's book is where anyone looking to initiate themselves into the mysteries of the Rousselian should begin. He provides detailed summaries of the novels, plays and poems, drawing our attention to repeated themes (such as transvestitism and androgyny), and shows how Roussel's writing 'can almost invariably be resolved into neatly balanced antitheses'; black/white; male/female, imitation/uniqueness. His reassessment of all the major debates surrounding Roussel's life, death and art is a massive labour of accumulation and consolidation. . . Entertaining."―Times Literary Supplement. December, 2000

"When did 'experimental' become synonymous with 'mystifying'? Mark Ford's smart new biography . . . hints at a novel answer: with Roussel, a strange and possibly mad French poet and fantasist. . . . Roussel's power is that . . . he functioned as a kind of proto-Andy Warhol. They could never be sure if he was pulling their leg."―The New York Times Book Review, March 25, 2001

"Ford neatly exposes the hidden machinations that produced Roussel's jumbled texts, while credibly linking his literary seclusion with the social isolation that his excessive wealth, clandestine homosexuality and delusional ambitions engendered. . . Through Ford's focused interpretations, the reader may appreciate the vivacity of Roussel's grotesque verbal sculptures, which contain a seemingly infinite proliferation of potential meanings."―Publishers Weekly, December 2000

"The author traces Roussel's bourgeois beginnings in Paris, where he grew up the son of a successful stockbroker, to his rise as a writer and his subsequent travels. Ford also addresses Roussel's relationship with his mother, his education, his homosexuality, the mystery surrounding his death, and his relationship with Marcel Proust. The real strength of this book is Ford's analysis of Roussel's major works. . . It will provide a valuable contribution to our understanding of an almost forgotten writer."―Library Journal, December 2000.

"With great vivacity Ford has written a declaration of literary fealty disguised . . . as a biography of the French writer Raymond Roussel. . . . As a biography, Ford's book is superb, the aptest initiation into Roussel's life and work in any language."―Richard Howard. The New Republic, April 2001

"Ford's is essentially the first English-language book to introduce Roussel's life and works. . . . He is frank about the difficulty of reading Roussel and honest about the scant rewards of such a reading (i.e., reading . . . Proust or . . . Joyce brings new experience with life itself; reading Roussel is an end in itself)."―Choice, June 2001, Vol. 38, No. 10

"Mark Ford brings to bear on his subject not only his fine-tuned literary discrimination but an exceptional awareness of what the knowing reader can pleasurably absorb. The subject itself―still regrettably obscure―is a major one: the life and work of a writer both eccentric and sublime."―Harry Mathews

From Publishers Weekly:

All but the most widely read students of the linguistic experiments of the past century will probably encounter Raymond Roussel (1877-1933) for the first time in poet Ford's (Landlocked) new biography. Ford's central proposition in this economical study is simply that his subject's writing is worth discovering. Roussel's success even in France has been minimal, though the list of highly acclaimed artists on both sides of the Atlantic who cherish his esoteric concoctions is impressive, including surrealists such as Andr? Breton and Salvador Dal!, along with Jean Cocteau and Alain Robbe-Grilletand, Manhattan School poets John Ashbery (who writes the preface to this volume) and Kenneth Koch. Roussel's compositional technique, which he dubbed his proc?d?, generated a structure for the plots and images of his writing in much the same way that meter and rhyme control the arrangement of words in a sonnet. The author's goal was to create art that retained utterly no relation to the physical world. By exploiting the double meanings and shifting associations inherent in language, his proc?d? defined the laws of an insular universe. Ford neatly exposes the hidden machinations that produced Roussel's jumbled texts, while credibly linking his literary seclusion with the social isolation that his excessive wealth, clandestine homosexuality and delusional ambitions engendered. Roussel believed from his youth that he was destined for immediate and widespread recognition, a conviction that eroded in the face of his numerous and spectacular failures. However, through Ford's focused interpretation, the reader may appreciate the vivacity of Roussel's grotesque verbal sculptures, which contain a seemingly infinite proliferation of potential meanings.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Descrizione libro Cornell University Press, United States, 2000. Hardback. Condizione libro: New. New.. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.Raymond Roussel, one of the most outlandishly compelling literary figures of modern times, died in mysterious circumstances at the age of fifty-six in 1933. The story Mark Ford tells about Roussel s life and work is at once captivating, heartbreaking, and almost beyond belief. Could even Proust or Nabokov have invented a character as strange and memorable as the exquisite dandy and graphomaniac this book brings to life?Roussel s poetry, novels, and plays influenced the work of many well-known writers and artists: Jean Cocteau found in him genius in its pure state, while Salvador Dali, who died with a copy of Roussel s Impressions d Afrique on his bedside table, believed him to be one of France s greatest writers ever. Edmond Rostand, Marcel Duchamp, Andre Breton, Michel Foucault, and Alain Robbe-Grillet all testified to the power of his unique imagination.By any standards, Roussel led an extraordinary life. Tremendously wealthy, he took two world tours during which he hardly left his hotel rooms. He never wore his clothes more than twice, and generally avoided conversation because he dreaded that it might turn morbid. Ford, himself a poet, traces the evolution of Roussel s bizarre compositional methods and describes the idiosyncrasies of a life structured as obsessively as Roussel structured his writing. Codice libro della libreria APC9780801438646

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