New Impressions of Africa

Overview

"That anyone could translate Nouvelles Impressions d'Afrique at all is unlikely, but that it could be done with such sparkle and brio seems downright mysterious. This version rescues Roussel's bizarre masterpiece from its status as an intriguing rumor and turns it into a valuable resource for contemporary English-speaking readers. Poets especially will be in Mark Ford's debt."?John Ashbery

"Raymond Roussel's New Impressions of Africa is one of the strangest, densest, maddest, ...

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New Impressions of Africa

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Overview

"That anyone could translate Nouvelles Impressions d'Afrique at all is unlikely, but that it could be done with such sparkle and brio seems downright mysterious. This version rescues Roussel's bizarre masterpiece from its status as an intriguing rumor and turns it into a valuable resource for contemporary English-speaking readers. Poets especially will be in Mark Ford's debt."—John Ashbery

"Raymond Roussel's New Impressions of Africa is one of the strangest, densest, maddest, most hauntingly beautiful poems of the twentieth century. In a signal act of scholarship and linguistic finesse, the poet and critic Mark Ford—who also happens to be one of the world's prime Roussel scholars—has carried this extraordinary work across the border from French into English with exemplary skill and care. I should warn you that the book you are holding in your hands is mind-bending."—Nicholas Jenkins, Stanford University

2012 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation Runner-up

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Editorial Reviews

Times Literary Supplement
Ford . . . deserves a medal and a Légion d'honneur. . . . Ford, himself a poet, combines his translation, introduction and notes with the original French and all the original illustrations; he and his publisher have given English-speaking readers privileged access to New Impressions of Africa, the book which Salvador Dalí once described as 'ungraspably poetic'
— Peter Read
London Review of Books
Mark Ford's facing-pages edition is easily the most comprehensive and reader-friendly to date. The author of the definitive biography of Roussel in English, Ford brings lucidity to his translation of what is by far Roussel's most ambitious work and probably his masterpiece.
— Paul Grimstad
BookForum
In his excellent introduction, Ford quotes Leiris's description of New Impressions of Africa as, among other things, a massive brain teaser, and many of its riddles are as humorous as they are tricky. . . . Intelligent, irascibly intelligible, and definitive.
— Eric Banks
Australian Book Review
Ford has not just translated but has also deciphered the New Impressions of Africa. In his own words, the poem is nothing less than a 'brain-teaser'. His translation is, as he concedes, less concise than the original, but not by much, and perhaps inevitably so. Roussel is so precise and sharp that his words seem almost psychically ergonomic. What Ford does brightly is recreate Roussel's cleverness and wit. In short, Ford has successfully translated what is nothing less than a sort of charming anomaly of modern literature. Rather than distracting from his work, the explanatory notes encourage the reader to appreciate Roussel. This generous clothbound, bilingual edition, which includes the original illustrations that Roussel commissioned, would even have pleased the author himself.
— William Heyward
Times Literary Supplement - Peter Read
Ford . . . deserves a medal and a Légion d'honneur. . . . Ford, himself a poet, combines his translation, introduction and notes with the original French and all the original illustrations; he and his publisher have given English-speaking readers privileged access to New Impressions of Africa, the book which Salvador Dalí once described as 'ungraspably poetic'
London Review of Books - Paul Grimstad
Mark Ford's facing-pages edition is easily the most comprehensive and reader-friendly to date. The author of the definitive biography of Roussel in English, Ford brings lucidity to his translation of what is by far Roussel's most ambitious work and probably his masterpiece.
BookForum - Eric Banks
In his excellent introduction, Ford quotes Leiris's description of New Impressions of Africa as, among other things, a massive brain teaser, and many of its riddles are as humorous as they are tricky. . . . Intelligent, irascibly intelligible, and definitive.
Australian Book Review - William Heyward
Ford has not just translated but has also deciphered the New Impressions of Africa. In his own words, the poem is nothing less than a 'brain-teaser'. His translation is, as he concedes, less concise than the original, but not by much, and perhaps inevitably so. Roussel is so precise and sharp that his words seem almost psychically ergonomic. What Ford does brightly is recreate Roussel's cleverness and wit. In short, Ford has successfully translated what is nothing less than a sort of charming anomaly of modern literature. Rather than distracting from his work, the explanatory notes encourage the reader to appreciate Roussel. This generous clothbound, bilingual edition, which includes the original illustrations that Roussel commissioned, would even have pleased the author himself.
Kenyon Review Newsletter er Meier

In this poem, every road diverges into a woods. It's a chance to take them all.
From the Publisher
Runner-Up for the 2012 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation, PEN American Center

"Ford . . . deserves a medal and a Légion d'honneur. . . . Ford, himself a poet, combines his translation, introduction and notes with the original French and all the original illustrations; he and his publisher have given English-speaking readers privileged access to New Impressions of Africa, the book which Salvador Dalí once described as 'ungraspably poetic'"—Peter Read, Times Literary Supplement

"Mark Ford's facing-pages edition is easily the most comprehensive and reader-friendly to date. The author of the definitive biography of Roussel in English, Ford brings lucidity to his translation of what is by far Roussel's most ambitious work and probably his masterpiece."—Paul Grimstad, London Review of Books

"In his excellent introduction, Ford quotes Leiris's description of New Impressions of Africa as, among other things, a massive brain teaser, and many of its riddles are as humorous as they are tricky. . . . Intelligent, irascibly intelligible, and definitive."—Eric Banks, BookForum

"In this poem, every road diverges into a woods. It's a chance to take them all."—Tyler Meier, Kenyon Review Newsletter

"Ford has not just translated but has also deciphered the New Impressions of Africa. In his own words, the poem is nothing less than a 'brain-teaser'. His translation is, as he concedes, less concise than the original, but not by much, and perhaps inevitably so. Roussel is so precise and sharp that his words seem almost psychically ergonomic. What Ford does brightly is recreate Roussel's cleverness and wit. In short, Ford has successfully translated what is nothing less than a sort of charming anomaly of modern literature. Rather than distracting from his work, the explanatory notes encourage the reader to appreciate Roussel. This generous clothbound, bilingual edition, which includes the original illustrations that Roussel commissioned, would even have pleased the author himself."—William Heyward, Australian Book Review

Times Literary Supplement

Ford . . . deserves a medal and a Légion d'honneur. . . . Ford, himself a poet, combines his translation, introduction and notes with the original French and all the original illustrations; he and his publisher have given English-speaking readers privileged access to New Impressions of Africa, the book which Salvador Dalí once described as 'ungraspably poetic'
— Peter Read

London Review of Books

Mark Ford's facing-pages edition is easily the most comprehensive and reader-friendly to date. The author of the definitive biography of Roussel in English, Ford brings lucidity to his translation of what is by far Roussel's most ambitious work and probably his masterpiece.
— Paul Grimstad

BookForum

In his excellent introduction, Ford quotes Leiris's description of New Impressions of Africa as, among other things, a massive brain teaser, and many of its riddles are as humorous as they are tricky. . . . Intelligent, irascibly intelligible, and definitive.
— Eric Banks

Australian Book Review

Ford has not just translated but has also deciphered the New Impressions of Africa. In his own words, the poem is nothing less than a 'brain-teaser'. His translation is, as he concedes, less concise than the original, but not by much, and perhaps inevitably so. Roussel is so precise and sharp that his words seem almost psychically ergonomic. What Ford does brightly is recreate Roussel's cleverness and wit. In short, Ford has successfully translated what is nothing less than a sort of charming anomaly of modern literature. Rather than distracting from his work, the explanatory notes encourage the reader to appreciate Roussel. This generous clothbound, bilingual edition, which includes the original illustrations that Roussel commissioned, would even have pleased the author himself.
— William Heyward

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691156033
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2012
  • Series: Facing Pages
  • Edition description: Bilingual
  • Pages: 264
  • Sales rank: 1,029,087
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 2.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Ford teaches in the English Department at University College London. He is the author of "Raymond Roussel and the Republic of Dreams". He has also published two volumes of essays, "A Driftwood Altar" and "Mr and Mrs Stevens and Other Essays". He is a regular contributor to the "London Review of Books" and the "New York Review of Books".

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Canto I: Damiette: La maison où Saint Louis fut prisonnier / Damietta: The house where Saint Louis was held prisoner 18
Canto II: Le Champ de bataille des Pyramides / The Battlefield of the Pyramids 62
Canto III: La Colonne qui, léchée jusqu’à ce que la langue saigne, guérit la jaunisse / The column that, when licked until the tongue bleeds, cures jaundice 178
Canto IV: Les Jardins de Rosette vus d’une dahabieh / The Gardens of Rosetta seen from a dahabieh 210

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