Locus Solus (Paperback)
An intoxicating sui generis novel by “the greatest mesmerist of modern times” (André Breton)
The wealthy scientist Martial Canterel guides a group of visitors through his expansive estate, Locus Solus, where he displays his various deranged inventions, each more spectacular than the last. First, he introduces a machine propelled by the weather, which constructs a mosaic out of varying hues of human teeth, then shows a hairless cat charged with a powerful electric battery, and next a bizarre theater in which corpses are reanimated with a special serum to enact the most important movements of their past lives. Wondrously imaginative and narrated with Roussel’s deadpan wit, Locus Solus is unlike anything else ever written.
About the Author
Raymond Roussel was born into a wealthy Parisian family in 1877 and died in a hotel room in Palermo in 1933. His works have influenced such artists and writers as Marcel Duchamp (“Roussel showed me the way”), Alberto Giacometti, Kenneth Koch, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Leonardo Sciascia, Paul Auster, Georges Perec, and Jim Jarmusch.
[H]e was a seminal influence on surrealism, Dadaism, the nouveau roman, and the Oulipo....Roussel could have attempted to go the way of a popular writer like Rostand or of an avant-garde writer like Breton, but, both admirably and foolishly, he remained Roussel to the end.
— Ryan Ruby - Lapham's Quarterly
Originally published in 1914, Roussel’s extraordinary novel still feels
fresh more than a hundred years later... Both a guide to a deranged
scientist’s estate and a prism for refracting Roussel’s diverse stories,
this incredible novel is somehow both Gothic and modern at the same
— Seth Satterlee - Publisher's Weekly
There is hidden in Roussel something so strong, so ominous, and so pregnant with the darkness of the ‘infinite spaces’ that frightened Pascal, that one feels the need for some sort of protective equipment when one reads him.
— John Ashbery
Genius in its pure state. The Proust of dreams.
— Jean Cocteau
Raymond Roussel’s works immediately absorbed me: I was taken by the prose style even before learning what was behind it—the process, the machines, the mechanisms—and no doubt when I discovered his process and his techniques, the obsessional side of me was seduced a second time by the shock of learning of the disparity between this methodically applied process, which was slightly naive, and the resulting intense poetry.
— Michel Foucault
Like a retelling of Scheherazade’s 1,001 tales, but filtered
through a character who fuses P. T. Barnum-style turn-of-the-century
showmanship with a Dr. Frankenstein-esque mad scientist mania, these
stories within a story are fascinating on their own but even more so in
concert with one another. And they act as the text which shadows
(without fully obscuring) an alternative text, a treatise on obsession
and innovation, which always seems to bubble just below the dreamy
— Lit Hub