New Impressions of Africa (Facing Pages)

Raymond Roussel

Published by Princeton University Press, 2011
ISBN 10: 0691144591 / ISBN 13: 9780691144597
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Poet, novelist, playwright, and chess enthusiast, Raymond Roussel (1877-1933) was one of the French belle époque's most compelling literary figures. During his lifetime, Roussel's work was vociferously championed by the surrealists, but never achieved the widespread acclaim for which he yearned. New Impressions of Africa is undoubtedly Roussel's most extraordinary work. Since its publication in 1932, this weird and wonderful poem has slowly gained cult status, and its admirers have included Salvador Dalì--who dubbed it the most "ungraspably poetic" work of the era--André Breton, Jean Cocteau, Marcel Duchamp, Michel Foucault, Kenneth Koch, and John Ashbery.


Roussel began writing New Impressions of Africa in 1915 while serving in the French Army during the First World War and it took him seventeen years to complete. "It is hard to believe the immense amount of time composition of this kind of verse requires," he later commented. Mysterious, unnerving, hilarious, haunting, both rigorously logical and dizzyingly sublime, it is truly one of the hidden masterpieces of twentieth-century modernism.


This bilingual edition of New Impressions of Africa presents the original French text and the English poet Mark Ford's lucid, idiomatic translation on facing pages. It also includes an introduction outlining the poem's peculiar structure and evolution, notes explaining its literary and historical references, and the fifty-nine illustrations anonymously commissioned by Roussel, via a detective agency, from Henri-A. Zo.

From the Back Cover:

"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

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Bibliographic Details

Title: New Impressions of Africa (Facing Pages)
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication Date: 2011
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Good
Edition: Bilingual.

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