The Princess Hoppy, Or, the Tale of Labrador: Or, the Tale of Labrador

Jacques Roubaud, Author, Bernard Hoepffner, Translator Dalkey Archive Press $9.95 (132p) ISBN 978-1-56478-032-4
Roubaud ( The Great Fire of London ) is a member of the Oulipo group of experimental writers whose best-known members include Raymond Queneau and Georges Perec. Like theirs, Roubaud's work is in the playful post-modernist vein. Unfortunately, in this novella, that playfulness is strained almost beyond endurance. This is a slight, almost plotless farce, compounded of romantic/chivalric cliches, math and logic problems and elements from children's literature. The title character is a sweet young princess whose four uncles, all kings, engage in endless and seemingly pointless conspiracies, governed by the incomprehensibly tangled ``rule of St. Benedict.'' Her most loyal retainer is a dog, who speaks in Dog. A lovesick astronomer from Baghdad makes a lengthy appearance. There is a profusion of polyglot punning, malapropisms and literary references that range from a dying king named Uther Pendragon to a hedgehog named Bartleby. The entire drearily unfunny jumble is narrated by ``the tale'' itself, a conceit as irritating as the relentlessly coy tone in which it is executed. Hoepffner's translation, however, is admirable in its efficiency, especially given the linguistic complexity of the material. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/30/1993
Release date: 09/01/1993
Genre: Fiction
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