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Book reviews for "Roussel,_Raymond" sorted by average review score:

Locus Solus
Published in Paperback by Riverrun Pr (1988)
Author: Raymond Roussel
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i read this a long time ago.
i read this book when i was about 13 and i have been wanting to read it again for 17 years. i remember it only vaguely, but i know it was good. please mister publisher, print it again.

A strange world of exhibits and the stories behind them
Roussel's novels are giant puzzles, in which he describes images and stories that have a unique carnival logic. Punning relationships generate textual rebuses (rebi?), in a way that makes the reader aware of the book as a mechanism, but Roussel gives too few clues to really understand it. In Locus Solus, Roussel gives a tour of the museum garden of an eccentric millionaire, who, like Roussel himself, collects with a frenetic and psychedelic rationalism. Please, Riverrun Press, reprint this book.

Among the Blacks: Two Works
Published in Paperback by Avenue B (1988)
Authors: Raymond Roussel and Ron Among the Blacks Padgett
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Padgett's & Roussel's Blacks
Among the Blacks consists of two works: Padgett's translation of Roussel's early story "parmi les noirs," first published in 1935 in his book Comment j'ai écrit certain de mes livres, together with Padgett's memoir focusing upon his own experience among black people. Roussel's story, about a master mariner named White who encounters an African chief named Booltable, is built upon the kind of whimsical and extravagant word play (its first and last sentences are identical except for one letter in one word -- "pooltable" / "Booltable") for which Roussel was idolized by the French Surrealists. In contrast, as he writes in his Afterword, Padgett's memoir "grew out of the nagging need to come to grips with the frustrations of being a white American who had grown up in a racist environment and who, despite his rejections of racism at an early age, had rarely felt unselfconscious in the company of a black person." Its language is transparent and unmannered, "an attempt somply to tell the trutgh, and to do so with a minimum of artfulness."

Other Traditions (Charles Eliot Norton Lectures)
Published in Hardcover by Harvard Univ Pr (2000)
Author: John Ashbery
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Dark and Light, Heavy and Light: What Ashbery Values
Here are six essays by John Ashbery about six of his favourite minor poets, ranging from John Clare, born in 1790s England, to David Schubert, born 1913 in New York. John Brooks Wheelwright and Laura Riding are included, from the early 20th century, as is Raymond Roussel (a French precursor to anti-novelists, a specialist in parenthetical labyrinths, and endlessly detailed descriptions of bottle-labels). We have, too, the doomed author of "Death's Jest Book," the 19th-century poet Thomas Lovell Beddoes.

These essays are engaging and readable, informed and informative without being pedantic. There are anecdotes, too (about Riding, most notably, who is aptly diagnosed by Ashbery as "a control freak"). We notice that half of the authors are homosexual or possibly so, most either committed suicide or had a parent who did so, three were affected by mental problems, and the majority were ardent leftists (Riding being an exception).

To this reader, the two Johns, Clare and Wheelwright, are the most immediately endearing, and David Schubert's disjunctive colloquial tone does fascinate. Some of the comments about the gang of six do shed some light into Ashbery's curious methods: Clare's mucky down-to-earthiness and Beddoes' elegant, enamelled "fleurs-du-mal" idiom both being "necessary" components of poetry, in Ashbery's view. Some of Wheelwright's elastic sonnets have a Saturday Evening Post-type folksiness that is often found in Ashbery's own poetic inventions; Schubert's poems (in Rachel Hadas's words) "seem(ing) to consist of slivers gracefully or haphazardly fitted together." An aside: Look at the first two lines of Schubert's "Happy Traveller." Couldn't that be John Ashbery? About Raymond Roussel, whose detractors accuse him of saying nothing, Ashbery mounts an impatient defence that reads like a self-defence: "If 'nothing' means a labyrinth of brilliant stories told only for themselves, then perhaps Roussel has nothing to say. Does he say it badly? Well, he writes like a mathematician."

We learn that Ashbery is not fond of E E Cummings, and he is unconvincingly semi-penitent of this "blind spot": Cummings, with his Herrick-like lucidity, his straightforward heterosexuality, and his resolute nonleftism, would not appear to fit nicely into Ashbery's pantheon. Ashbery even takes a few mischievous swipes at John Keats -- rather, he quotes George Moore doing so. Ashbery will doubtless forgive his readers if our enthusiasm for the poetry of Keats and Cummings remains undiminished.

There is much in the poetry explored by "Other Traditions" that is dark and bothersome; but there are felicities. These lectures form a fascinating kind of ars-poetica-in-prose by one of America's cleverest and most vexing of poets.

a doorway
Every once in a while, I come across a book that opens up new doors for me. They introduce to me to areas of life that I otherwise might never have encountered. Other Traditions by John Ashbery is just such a book.

I have always had a love for, but limited knowledge of, Poetry. It was Edward Hirsch's great book How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry that first introduced me to Ashbery's work. He is, in my opinion, one of the greatest living poets. Therefore, I jumped at the opportunity to read Other Traditions.

Other Traditions is the book form of a series of lectures given by Ashbery on other poets. Ashbery writes about six of the lesser-known artists who have had an impact on his own life and work. All of them are fascinating. They are:

-John Clare, a master at describing nature who spent the last 27 years of his life in an Asylum.

-Thomas Lovell Beddoes, a rather death obsessed author (he ended up taking his own life) whose greatest poetry consists of fragments that must often be culled from the pages of his lengthy dramas.

-Raymond Roussel, a French author whose magnum opus is actually a book-length sentence.

-John Wheelwright, a politically engaged genius whose ultra-dense poetry even Ashbery has a hard time describing or comprehending.

-Laura Riding, a poet of great talent and intellect who chose to forsake poetry (check out the copyright page).

-David Schubert, an obscure poet who Ashbery feels is one of the greatest of the Twentieth Century.

The two that I was most pleasantly surprised by are Clare and Riding.

Clare has become (since I picked up a couple of his books) one of my favorite poets. He is a master at describing rural life. I know of no one quite like him. Ashbery's true greatness as a critic comes out when he depicts Clare as "making his rounds."

Riding, on the other hand, represents the extreme version of every author's desire for the public to read their work in a precise way--the way the author intends it to be read. Her intense combativeness and sensitivity to criticism is as endearing as it is humorous.

Other Traditions has given me a key to a whole new world of books. For that I am most grateful.

I give this book my full recommendation.

Gem Of Oddities
This book is much smaller than I thought it would be, but this only enhances its gem-like charm; from its rich cover to its finely homespun interior. I thought at first I had heard it all before from Ashbery, in his short Schubert and Roussel essays, and in comments dropped in Reported Sightings; but even when covering the same ground he subtly brings forth new worlds. It's refreshing to hear him talk of these beloved poets, like a tour through the comfortable rooms of his mind, which of course also offers countless insights into Ashbery's own career of poetic journeys. I recommend this book to both literary scavengers of the past and arcane poets of the future, but especially to the intriguing combination of both living a dream right now.

Raymond Roussel
Published in Paperback by French & European Pubns (01 October, 1992)
Author: Michel Foucault
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I'd love to review this book bought on Amazon...
...except it is in French and I can't read a word of it.

Might have been nice if that were mentioned before I one-clicked. oh well.

Comment j'ai écrit certains de mes livres
Published in Unknown Binding by Union gâenâerale d'âeditions ()
Author: Raymond Roussel
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Como Escribir Algunos Libros Mios
Published in Paperback by Tusquets (1991)
Author: Raymond Roussel
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Death and the Labyrinth: The World of Raymond Roussel
Published in Hardcover by Doubleday (1986)
Author: Michel Foucault
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Impresiones de Africa
Published in Paperback by Siruela (2000)
Author: Raymond Roussel
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L Art Romanesque De Raymond Roussel
Published in Hardcover by French Literature Pubns (1982)
Author: Durham
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How I Wrote Certain of My Books and Other Writings
Published in Paperback by Exact Change (1995)
Authors: Raymond Roussel, Trevor Winkfield, John Ashbery, and Kenneth Koch
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