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Elementary Morality

Raymond Queneau

Translated by Philip Terry

Elementary Morality by Raymond Queneau
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This title is available for academic inspection (paperback only).
Paperback
ISBN: 978 1 857549 48 5
Categories: 20th Century, French, Translation
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: January 2008
216 x 135 x 12 mm
160 pages
Publisher: Carcanet Press
  • Description
  • Author
  • Awards
  • Reviews
  • Elementary Morality, Raymond Queneau's last book, is in many ways his most momentous. Here he distils the work of a lifetime: as Surrealist, flâneur, mathematician, poet, student of Eastern philosophy, experimental novelist and co-founder of OuLiPo, the 'workshop for potential literature'. Its 131 texts in the form of quennets - an invented form - and prose poems generated by the hexagrams of the I Ching, are a remarkable meditation on landscape, death, war, Surrealism, and memory, at once playful, mysterious and illuminating. David Bellos contributes an authoritative introduction to this first complete English translation of the work.

    Cover painting Sarah Raphael, Time Travel for Beginners (2000), copyright the Estate of Sarah Raphael 2007.
    Raymond Queneau
    Raymond Queneau was born in Normandy in 1903 and studied at the Sorbonne before military service and a career working for the Gallimard publishing house. A novelist, philosopher, poet, mathematician and translator, he was a leading figure in twentieth-century French literary life, a prolific writer whose work touches on many of ... read more
    Philip Terry
    Philip Terry was born in Belfast and has taught at the universities of Caen, Plymouth and Essex, where he is currently Director of the Centre for Creative Writing. His books include the anthology of short stories, Ovid Metamorphosed (2000), the poetry collections Oulipoems (2006), Oulipoems 2 (2009) and Shakespeare’s Sonnets (2011), ... read more
    Awards won by Raymond Queneau Winner, 2005 Man Booker International Translator'€™s Award
    'Philip Terry has done noble service in providing us with his expert rendition of Raymond Queneau's ultimate and enthralling book. English-readers can now revel in its exploration like travellers discovering an unimaginable land of uncanny wonders, its mystery and poetry lastingly intact.'
    Harry Mathews
    Praise for Raymond Queneau 'This book changed Parisians' view of their city and fertilised French poetry as few others have. A book of daydreaming and flânerie, it's absolutely worth hitting the poems' pavement, getting the lay of its loopy land, and sailing away.'
    Paul Fournel
    'I promise you'll love this, especially if you love Paris.'
    Nicholas Lezard, Guardian
    Praise for Philip Terry 'The English language is shape-shifting, and Philip Terry has turned onto its multiple modern metamorphoses to produce a witty, subtle and unprecedented fugue with variations. Shakespearean themes of love, regret, loss, and misanthropy gleam through a sumptuous ventriloquising of varied idiolects taken from the new media and the global infotainment traffic, seemingly infinite permutations of structure and syntax show a delighted agility and command of intervention. I am admiring, diverted, baffled, and moved by this original, contemporary re-engagement with the Sonnets'
    Marina Warner 
    'Sparse by design, this poetry is a strong reminder of the power of words when allied to our imagination, experience and emotions.'
    Prize Judges, New Angle Prize for East Anglian Literature
     '[Philip Terry's Inferno] follows Dante's narrative freely but carefully, moving constantly between colloquial and standard, rhythmically lively and effectively drawing the reader into the story.'
    Peter Riley, The Fortnightly Review
     'Philip Terry treats the tablets like elements of code to be cracked open for contemporary eyes and ears. [His] version is original and powerful; he does not try to mend the fragments into a legible whole, but remembers the poem's shattered state.'
    Marina Warner
    'It is brilliant... the pattern and rhythm very forceful and the lingo just stunning.'
    Marina Warner 
    'The lineation speeds along at a nice articulated pace, the Dantesque pitch is right and propulsive, the cast of villains is energising, the balance between language and lingo, the allusive and the obscene just right... Berrigan the perfect shambling guide...'
    Seamus Heaney
      'Though Terry's 'I' is all but absent, his eye is keen throughout, seizing on significant details of his wanderings around estuaries, around the old Berlin Wall, and finally along the digressive paths followed by W. G. Sebald through Suffolk in The Rings of Saturn. En route, Terry's precise [...] selection of language -- sampled from the vocabularies of biology, geography and history, among other disciplines -- offer hints and glimpses and conjectures about the ways in which these three modern landscapes have been shaped by their past and present inhabitants and vice versa. There is no overt editorialising, but rather a pervasive air of pensiveness that invites many re readings. These are poems of high ambition and integrity, and there is nothing else in the English language quite like them.'
    Kevin Jackson
     'These surprising and intriguing poems offer new ways of seeing overlooked places; of reading landscapes too often dismissed as illegible. Tonally adventurous, formally radical, sometimes witty, sometimes melancholically beautiful, they stand at a convergence of nature writing and experimental poetics.'
    Robert Macfarlane
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