Tuesday, November 3, 2015
Raymond Roussel ( 1877 – 1933) was a French poet, novelist, playwright, musician, and chess enthusiast. Through his novels, poems, and plays he exerted a profound influence on certain groups within 20th century French literature, including the Surrealists, Oulipo, and the authors of the nouveau roman.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Roussel was unpopular during his lifetime and critical reception of his works was almost unanimously negative. Nevertheless, he was admired by the Surrealist group and other avant-garde writers, particularly Michel Leiris, André Breton and Marcel Duchamp. He began to be rediscovered in the late 1950s, by the Oulipo and Alain Robbe-Grillet. His most direct influence in the English speaking world was on the New York School of poets; John Ashbery, Harry Mathews, James Schuyler, and Kenneth Koch briefly edited a magazine called Locus Solus after his novel.