Monday March 30th, 2009

Locus Solus by Raymond Roussel

locus_solus0002Recommended by Jennings in Chicago.
Written on the eve of the First World War, this novel allows itself strange indulgences. In place of a narrative arc, we have a walking tour, an eccentric professor as our guide, which collapses into a great number of impossibly intricate (yet not unintelligible) stories-within-stories. This penetrating, multiplying tool which Roussel uses to see how narratives contain other narratives ad infinitum has a corollary in his descriptions of the outrageous involuted mechanical sculptures-cum-scientific artworks that adorn the grounds of his mansion Locus Solus. We never get there of course, but the narrative paths along which we try to move are so engrossing that we hardly feel the unrealized destination as a loss.