Impressions of Africa
Translated by Mark Polizzotti
In a mythical African land, some shipwrecked and uniquely talented passengers stage a grand gala to entertain themselves and their captor, the great chieftain Talou. In performance after bizarre performance—starring, among others, a zither-playing worm, a marksman who can peel an egg at fifty yards, a railway car that rolls on calves' lungs, and fabulous machines that paint, weave, and compose music—Raymond Roussel demonstrates why it is that André Breton termed him "the greatest mesmerizer of modern times." But even more remarkable than the mindbending events Roussel details—as well as their outlandish, touching, or tawdry backstories—is the principle behind the novel's genesis, a complex system of puns and double-entendres that anticipated (and helped inspire) such movements as Surrealism and Oulipo. Newly translated and with an introduction by Mark Polizzotti, this edition of Impressions of Africa vividly restores the humor, linguistic legerdemain, and conceptual wonder of Raymond Roussel's magnum opus.
Nb of pages 280 p.
GTIN13 (EAN13) 9781564786241
Publication Date 01 June 2011
Nb of pages 280
Dimensions 5.5 x 8 in.
List Price $14.95
At around four P.M. that June twenty-fifth, everything seemed ready for the coronation of Talou VII, Emperor of Ponukele and King of Drelchkaff.
Though the sun had passed its zenith, the heat remained stifling in that region of equatorial Africa, and we all sweltered in the sultry atmosphere that no breeze came to relieve.
Before me stretched vast Trophy Square, located in the very heart of Ejur, the imposing capital formed by countless huts and lapped by the Atlantic Ocean, whose distant roar I could hear to my left.
The perfect quadrangle of the esplanade was bordered on each side by a row of venerable sycamores. From spears planted deep into the bark of each trunk dangled severed heads, banners, and ornaments of every kind, which Talou VII or his ancestors had amassed there on returning from many a victorious campaign.
To my right, before the midpoint of the row of trees, a red stage stood like a giant puppet theater; its pediment bore the words "The Incomparables Club" in silver letters forming three lines, around which broad golden strokes radiated like sun's rays.
"It is true that there is hidden in Roussel something so strong, so ominous and so pregnant with the darkness of the 'infinite spaces' . . . that one feels the need for some sort of protective equipment when one reads him." —John Ashbery
"I have kept my love for Roussel as something gratuitous, and I prefer it that way. . . . it's my secret affair. You know, [Roussel’s work] was my love for several summers . . . no one knew it." —Michel Foucault