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Raymond Roussel and the Republic of Dreams Hardcover – 30 Nov 2000
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"Mark Ford's book is where anyone looking to initiate themselves into the mysteries of the Rousselian should begin. He provides detailed summaries of the novels, plays and poems, drawing our attention to repeated themes (such as transvestitism and androgyny), and shows how Roussel's writing 'can almost invariably be resolved into neatly balanced antitheses'; black/white; male/female, imitation/uniqueness. His reassessment of all the major debates surrounding Roussel's life, death and art is a massive labour of accumulation and consolidation. . . Entertaining."--Times Literary Supplement. December, 2000
"When did 'experimental' become synonymous with 'mystifying'? Mark Ford's smart new biography . . . hints at a novel answer: with Roussel, a strange and possibly mad French poet and fantasist. . . . Roussel's power is that . . . he functioned as a kind of proto-Andy Warhol. They could never be sure if he was pulling their leg."--The New York Times Book Review, March 25, 2001
"Ford neatly exposes the hidden machinations that produced Roussel's jumbled texts, while credibly linking his literary seclusion with the social isolation that his excessive wealth, clandestine homosexuality and delusional ambitions engendered. . . Through Ford's focused interpretations, the reader may appreciate the vivacity of Roussel's grotesque verbal sculptures, which contain a seemingly infinite proliferation of potential meanings."--Publishers Weekly, December 2000
"The author traces Roussel's bourgeois beginnings in Paris, where he grew up the son of a successful stockbroker, to his rise as a writer and his subsequent travels. Ford also addresses Roussel's relationship with his mother, his education, his homosexuality, the mystery surrounding his death, and his relationship with Marcel Proust. The real strength of this book is Ford's analysis of Roussel's major works. . . It will provide a valuable contribution to our understanding of an almost forgotten writer."--Library Journal, December 2000.
"With great vivacity Ford has written a declaration of literary fealty disguised . . . as a biography of the French writer Raymond Roussel. . . . As a biography, Ford's book is superb, the aptest initiation into Roussel's life and work in any language."--Richard Howard. The New Republic, April 2001
"Ford's is essentially the first English-language book to introduce Roussel's life and works. . . . He is frank about the difficulty of reading Roussel and honest about the scant rewards of such a reading (i.e., reading . . . Proust or . . . Joyce brings new experience with life itself; reading Roussel is an end in itself)."--Choice, June 2001, Vol. 38, No. 10
"Mark Ford brings to bear on his subject not only his fine-tuned literary discrimination but an exceptional awareness of what the knowing reader can pleasurably absorb. The subject itself--still regrettably obscure--is a major one: the life and work of a writer both eccentric and sublime."--Harry Mathews
About the Author
Mark Ford was born in 1962. He has published two previous collections of poetry, Landlocked (Chatto & Windus, 1992) and Soft Sift (Faber, 2001). He is also the author of a critical biography of Raymond Roussel (Raymond Roussel and the Republic of Dreams (Faber, 2000), and a collection of essays, A Driftwood Altar (Waywiser Press, 2005). A second volume of critical pieces, Mr and Mrs Stevens and Other Essays, will be published in May of 2011, as will his translation of Raymond Roussels Nouvelles Impressions dAfrique. He teaches in the English Department at University College London. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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