Impressions of Africa

Impressions of Africa

by Raymond Roussel

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The long-awaited new translation of the most dazzling and unclassifiable work of fiction in any language.


The long-awaited new translation of the most dazzling and unclassifiable work of fiction in any language.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A group of wonderfully talented castaways held captive by an African potentate undertake elaborate stage productions in this ingenious exercise by experimental French author Roussel (1877–1933), first published in 1910 and newly translated. Washed ashore in a fictional equatorial African kingdom run by Emperor Talou VII, the passengers—a historian, an aging Russian ballerina, a French falsetto, a sharpshooter, a pyrotechnics engineer, and the narrator (among others)—are held in captivity, awaiting ransom and release. After witnessing the emperor's parade, showcasing marvelous feats of artifice, endurance, and torture, they begin to enact their own theatrical productions so that each captive might "distinguish himself through either an original work or a fabulous demonstration." The emperor's numerous children also play key roles. Clever devices are built by the engineers, the chemist, and the sculptor; Romeo and Juliet is artfully staged; and prizes are awarded. Tales within tales of Talou's ancestry abound in this demanding nonlinear narrative, as dryly descriptive as it is wondrously absurd. (June)
John Ashbery
“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.”
Louis Aragon
“[P]resident of the republic of dreams.”
Michel Foucault
“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.”
Ben Marcus - Harper's Magazine
“With Mark Polizzotti, Roussel has finally found his immaculate translator. Polizzotti hews closely to Roussel’s precisely engineered language, rendering a loyal English version without forfeiting the book’s underlying sense of enigma.”

Product Details

Riverrun Press, Incorporated
Publication date:
French Surrealism
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.80(d)

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Meet the Author

Raymond Roussel, ne a Paris, le 20 janvier 1877 et mort a Palerme, en Italie, le 14 juillet 1933, est un ecrivain, dramaturge et poete francais.

Mark Polizzotti is the translator of more than thirty books from the French. His articles and reviews have appeared in The Wall Street Journal and The Nation. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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