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Locus Solus

4.17  ·  Rating Details  ·  505 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
Based, like the earlier Impressions of Africa, on uniquely eccentric principles of composition, this book invites the reader to enter a world which in its innocence and extravagance is unlike anything in the literature of the twentieth century.

Cantarel, a scholarly scientist, whose enormous wealth imposes no limits upon his prolific ingenuity, is taking a group of visitors
Paperback, 256 pages
Published January 1st 1988 by Riverrun Press (New York, NY) (first published 1913)
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Sep 01, 2012 Megha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
"My fame will outshine that of Victor Hugo or Napoleon." - Raymond Roussel
While this wish of Roussel may not have been realized, he did inspire more artists than Napoleon ever did.

Reading Locus Solus is like having walked into a surrealist painting. As one explores the painting bit by bit, several fascinating stories behind the visuals are revealed.

Roussel takes the reader on a tour of an estate with wildly imaginative and bizarre inventions and works of art on display. These, however, are not
Oct 02, 2013 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: French surrealist Willy Wonkas, revivified cadavers, singers in aquariums
What a strange and bizarre book. Another obscure volume that I would never have read if not for the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list. Raymond Roussel was one of those avant-garde French writers whose greatest impact was upon rarefied literary circles known only to other literati: Focault, Breton, the New York School, etc. And yet, in this strange, surrealist fantasy, I discern influences that may have rippled out to a wider audience. Not really a book with a plot, Locus Solus is abou ...more
May 19, 2011 Tosh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book some years ago, and to this day I felt I dreamt it. Not meaning it's a Surrealist work - and some argue it is - at least by its nature. But re-reading "Locus Solus" reminds me of the Museum of Jurrastic Technology here in Los Angeles. One goes into the museum not sure how it will turn out in the end, but for sure you are going for a wild intellectual and sensual journey.

There is no real plot for say, but more of a group of settings where things happen Some are narratives and so
Eddie Watkins
Nov 19, 2015 Eddie Watkins rated it it was amazing
In rereading this I am struck by how much melodrama is buried in it - crimes of passion, infanticide, infidelity, suicide, hysteria, etc. - as if Roussel took the plot lines from any number of 19th c. novels and condensed them into the armatures of his bizarre mechanical inventions, where they act as the enlivening agents that sets them in motion. I am beginning to think that this buried melodrama constitutes the emotional content of his novels, whereas previously I considered his novels devoid ...more
Jan 23, 2013 Fer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To appreciate this book in all its grandeur one must contextualize it properly. We're reading a novel written in 1914, in a period prior to the Great War. The social environment was prone to philosophical and scientific positivism that would give birth to the Recieved View on the Wiener Kreis a decade later. The electricity takes over as core of industrial revolution, displacing the exhausted steam engine. Mists of Victorianism deviate to reveal a world transformed socially, intellectually and t ...more
Nate D
Jun 30, 2015 Nate D rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: roosters who compose alexandrine's by coughing up bloody letters
Recommended to Nate D by: a cat-horn-inspired orator's head in a tank
Spurning plot or any kind of traditional development, Roussel wrote this entire novel as a kind of cabinet of curiosities generated by wrenching a kind of narrative continuity out of arbitrary word games. Within, a brilliant eccentric shows guests his latest incomprehensible inventions, then explains them in great pseudoscientific detail. The Surrealists, 60s avant-garde lit, John Zorn, and many others found the utter weirdness to be greatly inspiring, and it is, but it may also be one of those ...more
Mar 29, 2008 Tosh rated it it was amazing
One of the great insane novels of all time. If you are scratching your head while reading 'Locus Solus" then this book is not for you. if you allow yourself to be pulled into a bizarre world in Roussel's very particular and odd world - then that's the plus. So allow the main character in this novel (and only character really) Martial Canterel take the reader on a tour of his estate...
Jan 24, 2016 Jale rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okurken epey zorlandım, hatta zaman zaman işkenceye dönüştü. Locus Solus'a edebiyat eseri denmeli mi bundan da emin değilim. Kafamda bir türlü canlandıramadığım için kağıt kalem alıp tasvir ettiği makineleri çizmeyi bile denedim, sonrasında bir blogda bulduğum çizimlere bakarak tekrardan okudum. Bu kadar zorlamaya gerek var mıydı peki? Sanmıyorum. Tek güzel yanı içindeki minik hikayeler ve masallardı, bir de Dali'nin yangında kurtarılacak kitap olarak göstermesi.
True to my promise/threat, I'm doing a cut and paste (or gut and waste) review, taking material from my earlier post:

But first, my newer reflections:

-Having recently been reading about mnemonics and memorization, it occurs to me that this book seems largely as if it were based on the images of a bizarre mnemonic, in a virtual memory palace, where every object and event is really just a symbol or a pun devised to help someone remember something. In other words, there is the perpetual feeling that
Moving from description to description, Roussel writes in terms of surrealist-inclined dreamworld and Victorian weird science, interspersed with digressions into imaginary fables of princesses and warriors. Each description is lucid enough to drag you in, much like the best ultra-structured fiction of the Oulipo writers. Damn, this is solid. If steampunk was smarter, it would come out something like this.
Aug 28, 2007 lisa_emily rated it really liked it
The surrealists call Roussel the "Proust of dreams" and after reading this heavily detailed novel of his, I can concur. We meet the main, and one of the only characters of this strange novel, Martial Canterel, on a tour of his estate. The reader who is part of an unnamed group who views enigmatic scenes. The scenes are sketched out in words as to vividly show them to the reader. After imagining the insensible scenes, Canterel then elucidates what has been shown.

Locus Solus has no real plot exce
Vit Babenco
Sep 16, 2014 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing
I would call Locus Solus an ultimate extravaganza where fantasy and inventiveness knows no limits. It’s a gallery of brilliantly schizoid visions.
“During this phase of the investigation Cantarel and his assistants closely surrounded the animated corpse, watching his every movement in order to assist him from time to time when necessary.”
In fact the entire story is a vivification of the dead – a surreal and post-impressionist tale of obsession and insanity defying genres and it is told by genius.
Dec 24, 2015 Roseb612 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Roseb612 by: 1001
K této knize jsem se dostala díky četbě románu Ostrov v bodě Nemo, který na něj zhusta odkazuje. Očekávala jsem surreálné čtení, ale ve finále kniha předčila v tomto ohledu všechna má očekávání. Místy je to tak fantasmagorické, že to hraniční asi s duševním zdravím autora, ale paradoxně se mi to četlo v řadě míst mnohem lépe než Ostrov v bodě Nemo.
Každá kapitola knihy se věnuje jednomu oddílu zahrady Canterelova sídla, kterou provází své návštěvníky. Výstavba kapitoly je vždy stejná - nejprve vy
Tori S
Roussel has been described as a surreal science-fiction writer. And by surreal, Roussel embraces the bizarre aspect much more than the dreamlike quality of surrealism, which is to the readers benefit. Because, as evident from the synopsis, the novel is full of Roussels outlandish creations (mosaic of human teeth people! Minute parasitic bugs used to create music and halos of light from within tarot cards!), explained in such excruciating detail that I can't decide whether Roussel should be admir ...more
Jun 19, 2012 Ladnoize rated it liked it
Raymond Roussel'ın tek romanı Locus Solus,okuyucuyu gerçekten kendi sürreal mantığı içerisinde büyülenmiş bir vaziyette bırakıyor.Canterel'in evinin bahçesinde Canterel öncülüğünde aydın bir grupla yapılan (- ve kitabın tamamını kapsayan) gezi insan tahayyül yeteneğinin sürreal diyarlarda katedebileceği yolları gösteriyor belki de bu diyarın sınırlarında geziniyor.Kitabı yaz başlangıcı gibi yoğun bir dönemde okumaya başladığım için Locus Solus'a hakettiği zamanı ve dikkati veremedim.Bu yüzden ki ...more
Jan 10, 2011 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A tight group of early twentieth century socialites spend a day visiting the 'Locus Solus' villa and the surrounding park belonging to the great scientist Martial Canterel. Within the grounds are scientific, theatrical and philanthropic spectacles created and demonstrated by the scientist, and described by the narrator. The reports on the events are incredibly dry and may be tedious unless the reader enjoys the merits of manipulating incredulous materials or conceiving the co-ordinates of theatr ...more
Hannah Gibbons
Jul 15, 2012 Hannah Gibbons rated it did not like it
I was really shocked at how much I didn't like this novel, to the point where 14 pages from the end I put the book back on my bookshelf because I realised I really didn't care what happened in the plot or to the characters. This is something I feel quite guilty about as it is unlike me as a reader to put something aside so close to the end. With a lack of unrelatable characters or characters in general and the plot not really going anywhere, I felt quite frustrated because I felt like the novel ...more
Jul 21, 2014 Colby rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is not without its merits, but for me the whole thing was exhausting. Imaginative? Yes. But there was no poetry. I feel like these subjects deserve a more flowery finesse beyond their mechanical descriptions. And the whole thing felt a bit self indulgent too; not a lot of consideration for the reader who has to follow Roussel down his convoluted and stratified rabbit hole and left to wonder exactly what they've been reading after they're in the middle of a story about a story about a s ...more
Mar 03, 2008 tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature
I'm joyously astounded to see how many people've read this on GoodReads! I'm fond of saying that Roussel was the greatest Surrealist writer WITHOUT ever having been a Surrealist (despite the promotional labelling of this bk as "French Surrealism" on the cover of the edition I have). Each individual scene in the tour of the main character Martial Canterel's Locus Solus has more imagination than most entire novels do. Just the way in wch the mural of multi-colored teeth is made is worth the price ...more
Nov 21, 2007 Andy rated it it was amazing
Spectacularly bizarre so-called "novel" is an exercise in concocting stories as rational and conventional as possible to explicate utterly surreal tableaus, which grow ever more elaborately crazy as the book progresses. Roussel found an artifical technique for generating dense nonsense (best to put off researching his process until after you've read the book) and then tried to somehow render it as sense. The fascinating results implicitly call into question the very nature of sense and nonsense, ...more
Jan 28, 2013 Matt rated it it was amazing
If you want to know what surreal writing is--this defines it (depending on the translation). Essentially it is a tour of an estate, wherein the prodigious scientist Martial Canterel, presents a series of phenomenal exhibits which forces the reader to wonder how such things could occur. Canterel then explains the scientific means of his success with each piece witnessed or interacted with. Consider it like a Disney World where science is magic, and text, the spell which Roussel weaves for the rea ...more
Peter Kelly
Dec 31, 2015 Peter Kelly rated it really liked it
An rich but eccentric scientist takes his guests on a tour of his country estate, showing them his teeth mosiac, his racing seahorses, his frozen corpses that mechanically act out the last moments of their lives, his tarot insects, and a whole bunch of other crazy stuff. Lacking dialogue and convincing characterisation, the nicest way to pitch this novel is to describe it as Charlie And The Chocolate Factory if it were written by Jorge Luis Borges.

This was a book I admired more than I enjoyed. R
Aug 11, 2011 David rated it really liked it
I maybe like it better in principle than while I'm actually reading it. The writing is very detailed, of course, but sometimes unclear, in part because of a generally shitty translation by Rupert Copeland Cuningham. (What the fuck is a paving beetle?) There's some crazy stuff here though. I'm especially partial to the tarot cards at the end.
Zuzana Krchova
Aug 07, 2008 Zuzana Krchova rated it really liked it
The whole book is a long, almost neverending describtion. It is said that this book is one of the most difficult to translate. I am very glad it was translated to Czech language- it was not an easy reading, but sheer pleasure nevertheless. Very unique.
An estate filled with fantastic objects and bizarre occurrences, each of which is described in precise and lovely detail and each of which conceals a series of nested stories, each more enjoyable than the last. Very much worth reading.
Take a trip around the weird and wonderful Locus Solus and meet Professor Canterel.
My favourite was the first story about the statue with a plant growing in the hand, won't tell you what the plant does but it's a charmimg little tale.
Jan 15, 2014 Susan rated it it was ok
I read this and Roussel's earlier book "Impressions of Africa" as part of the "1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die." I give both of them two stars for imagination, but-- But. These are not novels. There are no characters, no plot, no dialog. In each book, spectators are shown a series of weird, elaborate mechanisms, often an amalgam of human or animal and machine, and later we get a story--no, not a story, a description--of how these mechanisms came to be created. The end. These books are me ...more
Tara H
Aug 21, 2010 Tara H rated it really liked it
At first I was totally drawn in. Then I found it frustrating. But it's a highly unusual and fascinating book. Worth reading, for sure.
Mar 25, 2012 Aaron rated it really liked it
Really trippy book. The teeth machine and the giant diamond with breathable water! This is is what a fantasy novel should be!
Feb 20, 2012 Sander rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
only read first few pages but knowing that strange feeling when leaving to go somewhere you never come back from...this is it.
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