Locus Solus
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Locus Solus

4.23 of 5 stars 4.23  ·  rating details  ·  382 ratings  ·  41 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...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published January 1st 1988 by Riverrun Press (New York, NY) (first published 1913)
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"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...more
Oct 02, 2013 David rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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
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...more
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
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...
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.
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...more
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
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...more
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
Really trippy book. The teeth machine and the giant diamond with breathable water! This is is what a fantasy novel should be!
only read first few pages but knowing that strange feeling when leaving to go somewhere you never come back from...this is it.
Sep 23, 2007 Kiowa rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
This book is unlike anything you have ever read. A completely hyper-surreal adventure that sucks you into it's own set of logic.
Jacques le fataliste et son maître
Si prenda il verso di una canzone o di una filastrocca, o un indirizzo, o altro, e giocando sull’ambivalenza semantica delle parole o con spostamenti di lettere si ottenga una frase in cui convivono termini in apparenza allergici a ogni concatenazione narrativa. Per esempio, si passi da «demoiselle à prétendant» [fanciulla da pretendente] a «demoiselle à reître en dents» [mazzeranga per raitro in denti, dove la mazzeranga è uno strumento con cui si compatta il terreno, mentre il raitro è un sold...more
Nerida Hart
While it's entirely possible that the formulaic wordplay Roussel employed in his writing might be so interminably clever as to render the French reader dumbfounded, once translated into English, it's just plain dull. While I found the first couple of vignettes wonderfully imaginative and to the point, every successive chapter introduces progressively (and needlessly) more verbose descriptions of complicated machinations which overwhelm the reader with oftentimes irrelevant details, followed by a...more
«Прелестные поля, что нам ласкают взгляд,
Раздумий требуют скорее, чем затрат.
Чтоб не нарушить чар естественной природы,
Потребны ум и вкус, а вовсе не расходы.
Ведь каждый сад - пейзаж, и он неповторим.
Он скромен иль богат - равно любуюсь им.
Художниками быть пристало садоводам!
Луга, уступами сбегающие к водам,
Оттенки зелени, все в солнечном свету,
Где тени облаков, меняясь на лету,
Скользят, одушевив ковер живой и яркий,
Обнявшихся дерев причудливые арки,
Округлые холмы и резвые ручьи -
Вот к...more
Caleb Wilson
Unceasingly odd. With this and "Impressions of Africa" I suspect Raymond Roussel revealed a lot about himself, but what is revealed is so opaque and puzzling that I for one can't make any sense of it. (The Dalkey introduction of "Impressions" mentions how Roussel explained (posthumously) that much of the imagery in these books was guided by elaborate, non-humorous puns, which gives them a rebus-like atmosphere.) In this volume we follow the entirely sane and sensible mad scientist Canterel on a...more
Hannah Gibbons
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
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
A small audience is conducted through a "fantastic" (in the old-fashioned sense of the word) sequential collection on the premises of a wealthy, eccentric scientist. He has assembled objects that often come with a lengthy mythical history and created wondrous artifacts of early modern science. The former recalls Borges (and the original publication date of this makes one wonder if Roussel might have been an influence on the young Borges). The latter evokes the early modern science fiction of Jul...more
Darran Mclaughlin
This book is full blooded surrealism. It consists of extremely detailed, elaborate and imaginitive descriptions of objects and scenarios. It is very imaginitive indeed, but at first I found it quite dull and difficult to read because there was very little narrative in amongst the description. I grew to enjoy it more when I became accustomed to the style, but it isn't my cup of tea. It reminds me of 'In The Penal Colony' by Kafka and 'Invisible Cities' by Calvino, but I prefer both of those texts...more
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