Impressions of Africa

Impressions of Africa

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By Raymond Roussel

Translated by Mark Polizzotti

ISBN: 9781564786241 

Publication Date: 6/29/2011

The long-awaited new translation of the most dazzling and unclassifiable work of fiction in any language.

In a mythical African land, some shipwrecked and uniquely talented passengers stage a grand gala to entertain themselves and their captor, the great chieftain Talou. In performance after bizarre performance—starring, among others, a zither-playing worm, a marksman who can peel an egg at fifty yards, a railway car that rolls on calves' lungs, and fabulous machines that paint, weave, and compose music—Raymond Roussel demonstrates why it is that André Breton termed him "the greatest mesmerizer of modern times." But even more remarkable than the mindbending events Roussel details—as well as their outlandish, touching, or tawdry backstories—is the principle behind the novel's genesis, a complex system of puns and double-entendres that anticipated (and helped inspire) such movements as Surrealism and Oulipo. Newly translated and with an introduction by Mark Polizzotti, this edition of Impressions of Africa vividly restores the humor, linguistic legerdemain, and conceptual wonder of Raymond Roussel's magnum opus.


"Polizzotti’s remarkable achievement is a welcome addition to this small but growing body of work on Roussel and serves as a reminder of an author and a novel too often neglected, and far too brilliant to be missed." —Words Without Borders

Biographical Information

Raymond Roussel (1877-1933), born in Paris, was a French novelist, playwright, and poet. Unpopular during his lifetime, his works were highly influential to the Surrealist movement and the development of the nouveau roman.

Mark Polizzotti is the translator of more than thirty books from the French. His articles and reviews have appeared in The Wall Street Journal and The Nation. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.