By Raymond Roussel, Mark Ford
Poet, novelist, playwright, and chess fanatic, Raymond Roussel (1877-1933) was once one of many French belle époque's such a lot compelling literary figures. in the course of his lifetime, Roussel's paintings used to be vociferously championed by means of the surrealists, yet by no means completed the common approval for which he yearned. New Impressions of Africa is certainly Roussel's so much awesome paintings. for the reason that its book in 1932, this extraordinary poem has slowly received cult prestige, and its admirers have integrated Salvador Dalì--who dubbed it the main "ungraspably poetic" paintings of the era--André Breton, Jean Cocteau, Marcel Duchamp, Michel Foucault, Kenneth Koch, and John Ashbery.
Roussel all started writing New Impressions of Africa in 1915 whereas serving within the French military in the course of the First global warfare and it took him seventeen years to accomplish. "It is difficult to think the colossal period of time composition of this type of verse requires," he later commented. Mysterious, unnerving, hilarious, haunting, either carefully logical and dizzyingly elegant, it really is actually one of many hidden masterpieces of twentieth-century modernism.
This bilingual variation of latest Impressions of Africa provides the unique French textual content and the English poet Mark Ford's lucid, idiomatic translation on dealing with pages. it is also an advent outlining the poem's ordinary constitution and evolution, notes explaining its literary and ancient references, and the fifty-nine illustrations anonymously commissioned through Roussel, through a detective employer, from Henri-A. Zo.
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Additional resources for New Impressions of Africa (Facing Pages)
79 le Cygne: A reference to a light manufactured by the Swan Electric Light Company, founded in 1881. 91 Bottin: The name of a well-known street and trade directory. Joan of Arc, seen from the front, on horseback, in front of some foot soldiers. (lines 72–73) —Le lait chaud par l’attente attiédi dans son pot, S’il choira dans la tasse avec ou sans sa peau; —S’il risque, osé, qu’à grains d’ellébore on le purge D’autorité, l’ultra-moderne dramaturge; —Le poète, si l’on pourrait avec « Auteuil » Faire à souhait rimer « comme dans un fauteuil »; —Le peintre méconnu, si, du haut des étoiles, Mort, il verra les snobs se disputer ses toiles; —L’explorateur, si, loin de ce qu’il a de cher, Un jour il repaîtra son prochain de sa chair; —Si va lui sembler fort son enfant, l’accouchée Qui ne s’est, avec lui, pas encore abouchée; —Le jeune auteur1, Jusqu’à quand ses écrits paraîtront à ses frais2; —L’enfant, si, quand de l’ogre il mit les grosses bottes, Poucet souffla dessus pour les rendre nabotes; —Le vieillard qui parcourt une lettre de part, S’il sera bientôt mûr, lui, pour le grand départ; 1.
57 le couteau de Janot: An allusion to a well-known fable about a French peasant who repeatedly replaces first the blade, then the handle of his knife. , in the anus. A wall that a slatted shutter bangs in the wind (somewhere in the picture a tossing tree giving the impression of a storm). (lines 58–59) Une odeur connue au seuil du numéro cent; —Le collignon à fouet rageur, à quelle cote, Dans le Grand Prix, gagnante, on donnerait Cocote; —Si monter pratique en homme, à la longue, en arc, Par degrés lui mettra les jambes, Jeanne d’Arc; —Le sans le sou, s’il est près de rouler carrosse, Qui, malin, d’un bossu vient de toucher la bosse; —Quand sous sa dextre on penche un sac de confiseur, Si des vers vont doubler son plaisir, le liseur; —L’astronome âgé, si, gâteux, avec un signe Du Zodiaque, un jour, il confondra le Cygne; —Les vieux, si saint Martin, vraiment, par son été, Rend possible un instant d’être et d’avoir été; —L’architecte, si lorsqu’il porte, pas plus grosse Qu’un jouet, sa maquette, on le prend pour un gosse; —Le théologien, si la Vierge à son fils Doit sa célébrité plus ou moins qu’à ses fils; —Le dompteur, si sa veuve, un an, sans gris ni mauve, Stricte s’habillera, dont se régale un fauve; —Si ses enfants naîtront sourds, celle dont la main Fut la veille accordée à son cousin germain; —Le loustic, si, pour voir où son cordonnier perche, Mieux vaut dans sa bottine ou son Bottin qu’on cherche; 42 Nouvelles Impressions d’Afrique 70 75 80 85 90 A familiar scent on the threshold of a public toilet; —The cabby with the ferocious whip, what odds He might get on his gee-gee winning the Grand Prix; —If mounting her horse like a man will, in the course of time, Slowly make her bow-legged, Joan of Arc; —The penniless man if he’s about to start living in style, After he’s just wickedly touched the hump of a hunchback for luck; —A bag of sweets dangling from his right hand, the prospective Reader, if the packet’s rhymes are going to double his pleasure; —The ageing astronomer if, senile, he will one day mistake A Swan electric light for a sign of the Zodiac; —Old people if Saint Martin, on account of Saint Martin’s summer, truly Made possible an instant of being and of having been; —The architect if, while he carries his model building that’s no bigger Than a toy, people will think he’s a kid; —The theologian if the Virgin owes her fame more to her son Or to the gossamer known as fils de la Vierge; —The animal tamer if his widow, one year on, without grey or mauve, Will still be in strict mourning, as a wild beast eats him; —If her children will be born deaf, she whose hand The day before was given in marriage to her first cousin; —The joker if, to find the address of his bootmaker, It would be better to look inside his boot or in Bottin; Canto I 43 77 des vers: Roussel is referring to sweets that come wrapped in papers with rhyming mottos printed on them.
13 fins stratagèmes: To learn what the photographer who lives on the top floor of his building knows so well, turn to line 168. 14 lorsque arborant ses gemmes: Roussel completes this second parenthesis in lines 165–67. 19 il apparaîtra flou: This train of thought is returned to at line 136. There we are informed that the person having his photograph taken, and wondering if his image will be blurred if he moves, “Prétend determiner son rang ou ses talents” (“Assertively presents his rank or his talents”) by dressing up in an appropriate costume.
New Impressions of Africa (Facing Pages) by Raymond Roussel, Mark Ford