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New Impressions of Africa

4.47  ·  Rating details ·  72 ratings  ·  13 reviews

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. Si

Paperback, Limited to 1000 slipcased copies, 256 pages
Published January 1st 2004 by Atlas Press (GB) (first published 1932)
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Jim Elkins
Oct 09, 2012 added it
Shelves: french
What Does It Mean, Exactly, To Say You've Read This Book?

(This is a first impression of New Impressions. I have a long and hopefully thoughtful assessment here.)

First, I think it must mean that you have already read 'How I Wrote Certain of My Books,' 'Locus Solus,' and 'Impressions of Africa': that is, you are thoroughly immersed, hypnotized, pithed by Roussel's unimpeachable and unapproachable weirdness. Then, I think it should mean you have read something about Roussel: Foucault's book, or pos
Eddie Watkins

Reading this book soothes me in a very weird way.

* * * * * * * * *

Now here's a book that should have distinct entries here on GR for its two current translations into English - Ian Monk's and Mark Ford's.

Why the more recent Mark Ford version sports blurbs to the effect that his translation is the first is beyond me, though I'm beginnning to suspect some minor conspiracy initiated by distributors of foreign books and their campaign to limit the availability, and perhaps even deny the existence, o
Anthony Vacca
Jan 13, 2016 rated it liked it
A truly marvelous artifact from Atlas Press--Oulipian Ian Monk's English translation (the first one!) of this revered (by Surrealists and Oulipians) work tirelessly recreates Roussel's rhyming structure (at the cost of clarity, perhaps?) as it passes within parenthesis within parenthesis within several more layers of parenthesis (the French verse is faithfully reproduced on the left-hand page); interleaved between every page are the slapdash but professional drawings of H.-A. Z0 (who was commiss ...more
Nov 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Do I have a favorite poet? No. Do I really enjoy reading poetry that much? No. Do I think Raymond Roussel is a great poet? YES. I might not've answered YES before reading this bk.. but now I'm convinced. I'd previously been very impressed by his "The View" for reasons that're typical of me: THE IDEA OF IT: the idea of writing a long poem based on describing what the author can see reflected in the convex surface of a paperweight. This attn to detail, this amazing focus, this novel formal restric ...more
Mar 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First of all anyone who is interested in 20th century literature should have a copy of this book. Number two, beyond the hype or stories how this book affected the 20th Century and beyond - this is pretty damn great book. Raymond Roussel was one of those guys who had it. And yes extremely wealthy and extremely neurotic - but nevertheless a superb genius.

So what we have is a poetry book that is also probably the most clever "literary" puzzle ever. The translator Mark Ford, who is also the Englis
Sep 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
My new favorite Roussel

A poem comprised of four long sentences, each extended, broken apart and complicated by a series of parenthetical statements, which have, in turn their own parentheses, and parentheses within parentheses within parentheses, etc. ((((((for example, 6th level parentheses are designated as such)))))) the sentences are also interrupted by various footnotes (all rhymed, reminding us of their unusual place as both part of the poem and also outside the poem-- sometimes the footn
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Poetry or; poetic exercise exacting damage in revenge, invention by invariably resorting to a doublespeak, triple entendre threatening to take its next level further, bring this familiar home.

Brave, brilliant, barely intelligible and yet; beyond.
Sep 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'Nouvelles Impressions d'Afrique', a title interpreted by Jean Ferry to represent 'nouvelles impressions à fric' ('new imprints for money') -- a sure sign that Raymond Roussel was aware by now that his work didn't sell well and publication had to be paid for by the author himself. The typesetter he collaborated with revealed that Roussel's original intentions with this book were to print the different layers or mental expeditions using different colors, but Roussel couldn't afford the costs of t ...more
Feb 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: couldnt-finish
I couldn't finish it entirely, I guess what excited me at first was the very thing ironically which after a sabbatical made me decide to let it collect dust. Tiresome were the references I continuously had to read since you ought to be thoroughly well-read to fully appreciate the beauty that this book has. You need have patience with this and I'm afraid I exhausted mine especially since there are a ton of books in my unread collection that I would rather devote my time to. I stand by my word of ...more
Jan 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
as though joycean stream of consciousness could look back over itself and tie together its loose threads - language (sanity) disintegrates as connotations and associations stretch to infinity - weird feeling (nostalgia almost) of reaching at the end something read at the beginning (to complete original thought, interrupted by hundreds of lines of digressions).
May 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
AN HISPERIC MASTERPIECE! This is Roussel's finest work deftly translated: a cascade of verbal images open on on the pages and them close at the conclusion. A dazzling display of Proustian pataphysics that heralds the writings of Robbe-Grillet, Ronald Johnson and many others.
Dec 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Probably not the best place to start with Roussel, this is my favorite of his books. The translation is a tour-de-force.

Wash your hands before reading --the cream paper retains smudges.
Dec 10, 2007 marked it as to-read
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Poet, storyteller, playwright and French essayist, born in Paris in 1877 and died in Palermo (Italy) in 1933. Author of a singular literary production of striking originality and dazzling imaginative force, applied with real obsessive fixation experiments applied to descriptive techniques and came to deploy a sort of automatic writing that made him one of the most brilliant of the surrealist movem ...more

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