Death and the Labyrinth: The World of Raymond Roussel

Michel Foucault, Author Doubleday Books $15.95 (186p) ISBN 978-0-385-27854-6
In Roussel's fictional world, a litter of kittens performs on parallel bars, people disguise themselves as tiny objects, a man wears a bracelet that is a giant earthworm. His novels, naive plays and poems, which mesmerized the French Surrealists, are populated by human machines, lovers taken by surprise, magical substances, prisons and tortuous signs. Roussel's word inventions inspired Giacometti, and Gide revered him as a genius, yet this recluse who apparently committed suicide in 1933 is today considered a minor writer. Foucault (Madness and Civilization originally published this in-depth literary study in 1963. Regarding Roussel's ties to the Surrealists as incidental, Foucault shows how Roussel used childlike devices, word puzzles, double entendre and free association to create modern myths and unlock the unconscious. Roussel's themes are imprisonment and liberation; Foucault, well-known for his studies of madness, prisons and sexuality, has a natural affinity for this compelling, sometimes obscure writer whose world of inhuman beauty seems always on the point of divulging its secrets. February 21
Reviewed on: 01/01/1986
Release date: 01/01/1986
Genre: Fiction
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Paperback - 978-0-520-05990-0
Paperback - 227 pages - 978-0-8264-9362-0
Hardcover - 256 pages - 978-0-485-11336-5
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