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The Great Fire of London [Paperback]

Jacques Roubaud
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Dec 16 2014 French Literature Series

Part novel, part autobiography, The Great Fire of London is one of the great literary undertakings of our time. Both exasperating and moving, cherished by its readers, it has its origins in the author's attempt to come to terms with the death of his young wife Alix, whose presence both haunts and gives meaning to every page. Having failed to write his intended novel ("The Great Fire of London"), instead Roubaud creates a book that is about that failure, but in the process opens up the world of the creative process. This novel stands as a lyrical counterpart of the great postmodern masterpieces by fellow Oulipians Georges Perec and Italo Calvino. First published by Dalkey Archive Press in 1991, now available again.


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From Publishers Weekly

This challenging book is not a novel but the ruins of a novel: a few sentences of the preface and the struts of a theoretical framework are all that remain of 20 years' work. After dreaming the title in 1961, Roubaud worked out a system of constraints-- based on mathematics and troubador poetics-- which were to form the substructure of his novel. The system was worthy of a mathematics professor and member of Ouvroir de Litterature Potentielle (Oulipo), the literary workshop where Georges Perec cultivated his lipograms and Raymond Queneau his combinatory literature. But when Roubaud's young wife, Alix, died in 1983, the novel ceased to be an intellectual quest and became rather a way of nullifying time. Remnants of the original recondite artifice remain embedded in Roubaud's new conceit, his "unedited-prose constraint," i.e., writing by placing one line after another without attempting to "erase, replace, correct on the spot . . . this initial language deposit." Through this relentless prose and various asides--the "interpolations and bifurcations"--Roubaud describes university haunts, old lovers, Pooh, making azarole jam, the British Library, himself, his work and the often unspoken but pervasive presence of the dead Alix, whose spirit tempers this demanding book.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Only those willing to set aside all preconceptions of what a novel is should take on this book. Roubaud's goal is to obliterate the novel as a form and replace it with a multilayered, multistyled collection of "moments," complete with additional musings appended in "interpolations and bifurcations." The resulting complexity is needless, often frustrating, and only justifiable stylistically, for there is no story or linear narrative in this work. In destroying this aspect, the author clearly achieves his goal. What is left, then, is a book relating the death of a story and focusing on the writer's inability to produce the story. While other writers may find this interesting, general readers certainly will not. Perhaps never before has "nothing" been rendered so problematically. Roubaud, himself a mathematician, should know how to express it with one sign.
- Paul E. Hutchison, Pequea, Pa.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars hypertext novel - not for those of linear mind April 28 1999
Format:Hardcover
hypertext novel - excellent text read and enjoy
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
3 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars hypertext novel - not for those of linear mind April 28 1999
By stephen p brockbank - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
hypertext novel - excellent text read and enjoy
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