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The Sunday of Life (Oneworld Classics) Paperback – 25 May 2011

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Paperback, 25 May 2011
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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld Classics Ltd (25 May 2011)
  • Language: English, French
  • ISBN-10: 1847491820
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847491824
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,448,248 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'A very funny book with great charm' The Times 'This first English translation of The Sunday of Life is excellent' --The Financial Times

About the Author

Raymond Queneau (1903-76) was a poet, novelist, editor, scholar and mathematician. He is best remembered for Exercises in Style and Zazie in the Metro.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A Life of Sundays 19 Nov. 2001
By Ralphus - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is one of my favourite Queneau novels. Actually it's one of my favourite novels! In one slim volume Queneau achieves a poignancy and oblique truthfulness that is very rarely found in 'modernist' literature. Much is said of Queneau's technique - the neologisms, anachronisms, puns, mathematics - but to focus on these surface aspects is, in my opinion, partly missing the point. Queneau puts all of himself into his works and these technical aspects reflect his deep love of language and recognition of the fact that a novel is essentially an 'artificial' creation. Why shouldn't the writer do as he pleases? But there is much more to the man Queneau. Aside from his linguistic play, his works are always deeply humane. It is enlightening to read Queneau's list of 100 favourite novels. Aswell as Jacques the Fatalist you will find Hemingway, Faulkner and Dickens. Queneau, like Calvino, considers himself a reader first, writer second. Like Calvino he considers reading itself an art form. Certainly he calls upon us to exercise our 'artistic' talents but also he requires us to see each of his novels as an 'artifact', as simply 'some writing'. A good novel can be like a window: giving us a 'view' of some created world, or focussing our attention on the 'pane of glass' itself; Queneau's novels do both. We are voyeurs of the bumbling of his characters but we can also see the frame, never forgetting that this is a novel that we're reading. And so Valentin Bru, like all his most endearing characters, is a person and an archetype. He embodies the deepest concerns of the novel (he is a naif, gifted with the "good humour" that means he "cannot be fundamentally bad or base", encapsulating the quote by Hegel with which the novel begins) and yet we can empathise with him as a typically flawed specimen of humanity, trying to pass his time on Earth as painlessly as possible. Like Pierrot (Pierrot mon ami), like Cidrolin (The Blue Flowers), like Alfred (The Last Days). It is my belief that all these novels, all these characters, ask the same question: why do we do what it is we do? Queneau always seems to answer, never unequivocally ofcourse: because we are human. Valentin Bru does what he does because it doesn't matter what he does, he could do something else, or not. Queneau's characters and novels have no bounds, no limitations. They suggest and accept all possibilities. This is what makes his work, and The Sunday of Life especially, so profoundly and poignantly humane.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
I don't know Hegel, but I know what I like. 11 July 2001
By darragh o'donoghue - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Like most Raymond Queneau novels, 'The Sunday of Life' is a seemingly inconsequential novel that suddenly opens up onto a philosophical vortex.
Valentin Bru is a retiring private soldier in Bordeaux, a veteran of colonial warfare singled out for marriage by a middle-aged merceress whom he has never met. Bru's sole desire is to be a street sweeper, but soon inherits a frame-selling shop in Paris. An earlier visit to the city on a honeymoon he had to take on his own because of his wife's concern for business, saw him engaged in farcical adventures ending up coincidentally at the funeral of his mother-in-law's younger lover. Now in his shop, he becomes a kind of confessional for the local traders, passing on the information to his wife who, unknown to him, has become a clairvoyant.
So far, so funny. The novel proceeds with Queneau's usual gorgeous style, that decaptively loose mix of vernacular and circumlocution that creates comedy by over-verbalising the banal, or pitting his hero's innocence and good faith against the cynical, or customs he simply doesn't understand.
Soon, however, time intrudes, as Valentin acts on a desire to 'trap' time, to follow the long hand of a clock without losing himself in reveries or distractions. The title derives from Hegel, whose spirit haunts the book, and refers, apparently, to a point where history ends and everyday is like Sunday, a timeless realm of pure consciousness. Or something. I don't know anything about Hegel, you'd have to look it up. Certainly, there are at least two strands of time in the novel, the world of the late 30s, Nazism, the impending Fall of France, and the seemingly detached present tense Valentin seems to float through. this is reinforced by a plot with fortune tellers and a hero who predicts a coming war in a 1952 novel that knows he's right.
Philosophers will probably enjoy all this - the rest of us can relish the simpler pleasures: linguistic play; deadpan funny characters; deadpan silly, almost irrelevant comic situations; deadpan dialogue; a sunny love of Paris.
Five Stars 5 Dec. 2014
By rocketgal4 - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Book and seller were great!
1 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Zany, Whacky, Crazy... and several other similar adjectives 2 May 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Oh my god! Zazie's out of stock and the Bark Tree too. A shame, although this is pretty good nonetheless, got me into Queneau, anyway. Pretty damn funny with a sardonic aftertaste. Like the rest of his stuff. You have to see the movies of this and Zazie, though, (especially Zazie). Malle achieves on film is equivalent to Queneau's achievement on the page. Before I read this my concentration was very low in every respect. Somehow this book helped my concentration level... if books can do that. Maybe it was something else, but it's still a good book as are the other two. The Bark Tree's pretty different to this one, darker, more like Robbe-Grillet if you get into that stuff. Have fun.
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