cover image Hortense in Exile

Hortense in Exile

Jacques Roubaud. Dalkey Archive Press, $19.95 (211pp) ISBN 978-1-56478-001-0

Despite the trials she suffered during the course of Our Beautiful Heroine and Hortense Is Abducted , the voluptuous Hortense is back, this time as the fiancee of the Poldevian Presumed Premier Prince. Her Prince Gormanskoi, however, finds himself playing the role of Hamlet, leaving Hortense alone with only the cat sage Alexandresic Vladimirovitch standing between her and inevitable misadventure. Poldevia, a land ``populated, very likely since the Neolithic Age, by bandits and mustaches,'' is not one world but six co-existent worlds, one of which is under the sway of a prince whose evil intentions have carried over from Hortense Is Abducted . What next? It hardly matters. For Roubaud, a French mathematics professor and member of OuLiPo ( Ouvroir de Litterature Potentielle ), the question is not where you're going but how you get there. His route is strewn with epenthesesOK , anagrams, songs, references to fellow Oulipians and asides--from commentator, printer, publisher, author, reviewer and the novel itself. For anyone whose mind has wandered while perusing France's more tedious linguistic moil, Hortense will restore faith in the nation's esprit . (July)