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The Form of a City Changes Faster, Alas, Than the Human Heart

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3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  49 Ratings  ·  4 Reviews
An homage and response to many of France’s best-known poets, including Charles Baudelaire and Raymond Queneau, this collection moves through the streets of Paris, commenting on its inhabitants, its writers, its monumental past, and all its possible futures. Alternating between honesty and evasion, erudition and lightheartedness, constraint and freedom, The Form of a City C ...more
Paperback, 264 pages
Published July 1st 2006 by Dalkey Archive Press (first published 1999)
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MJ Nicholls
If the following two-line poem amuses you in any way, albeit slight, this poetry book is for you:

“Rue Pavée”

Rue Pavée
is no longer paved.

Genius! Jacques Roubaud’s most recent collection of poetry explores the streets of Paris, the idle hours spent ambling around this distinctive city, with an emphasis on place names over scenery. Roubaud responds to work from Queneau (the first cycle is a take on his collection Les pauvres gens), Verlaine, Rimbaud and esoteric historical figures. From meditations
...more
Eddie Watkins
Oct 16, 2014 Eddie Watkins rated it really liked it
Reading Jacques Roubaud gives me the impression that he is a large man; not fat, necessarily - (though he has an insatiable literary appetite) - but tall and with, most importantly, a presence. He's a poet with a commanding view, but there's nothing domineering about him; in fact the abiding quality gleaned from what I've read is selfless humility, though his particular, and rather eccentric, mind is never absent. His humility has allowed his mind to freely express itself, along with its crazy q ...more
Geoff
May 31, 2012 Geoff rated it really liked it
The Form of a City Changes Faster, Alas, Than the Human Heart, besides having undoubtedly the best title borrowed from Baudelaire of any work ever, seems also to me (along side Perec’s An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris, elements of his Life, and Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities) to be among the apotheoses of the Oulipo’s obsession with the way words represent and replicate space. The book is dedicated to Queneau, and his obsession with word play, doubling or tripling words, repetitions, ...more
Tosh
Apr 24, 2011 Tosh rated it really liked it
By reading these Paris city poems by Jacques Roubaud, one can sense that there is an "Oulipo" stance with its wit and presence. But then again, this is probably one of the best 'poetic' books on Paris. In fact it reads like a map - and for some reason I am drawn to the visual aspect of Paris and how its streets are placed in sections and how it is attached to the big boulevards.

There is a dual aspect to these poems. One is the importance of a language that investigates Paris, but also it is an
...more
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160026
Jacques Roubaud (born 1932 in Caluire-et-Cuire, Rhône) is a French poet and mathematician.
He is a retired Mathematics professor from University of Paris X, a retired Poetry professor from EHESS and a member of the Oulipo group, he has also published poetry, plays, novels, and translated English poetry and books into French such as Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark.
Roubaud's fiction often su
...more
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