The Last Days

Raymond Queneau, Author Dalkey Archive Press $19.95 (237p) ISBN 978-0-916583-62-0
To tell the tale of his intellectual coming-of-age, Queneau calls on not one character but seven. Three are adults: a petty con man who has just found ambition, a portly geography teacher who has just found guilt, and a weak-willed publisher of art books. Three are students: the young Queneau, a smug student of philo(sophie) gene(rale) and a third character-slot filled alternately by a long-haired spiritist and a chiseling pre-med. The generations are joined by a common rush towards doom (military service for the students, death for their elders), Alfred, the philosopher cum waiter who is at the eye of these hurtling destinies, and by Queneau's beguiling language--and Wright's equally beguiling translation. In this world, the verb ``subyelped'' has validity, a weekly ledger has descriptive power and a conversation between a student and his notebook has rationale. Queneau's (1903-1976) literary infractions, unlike those of many other writers of his era, are not for the sake of novelty but for the sake of the novel. According to the introduction, this picture of Parisian student life in the 1920s was written a decade later and published in 1936. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 978-0-916583-63-7
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