Saturday, April 03, 2021

Locus Solus

The cover of a new sketchbook (No 81). Done with mostly white ink on fake leather. Like always, kept in a raw state for the sake of spontaneity. The male character's name F. Caroussel refers to Raymond Roussel, whose Locus Solus is one of the most bizarre books I have read. There was a Dutch translation of it in the mid-1990s. It must have been a real tour de force to translate from the original french. What I am thinking of now won't be a too obvious pastiche or tribute, but I am delighted with the fact that Locus Solus happens to have been written in 1913, the 'magical' year my recent books take place in.

Roussel was a true eccentric. Heir to a fortune, he could devote his life to writing. He deviced a system based on homonyms (he was french, after all) which led to very strange fiction. Locus Solus is basicly a tour past a series of inventions, demonstrated by their creator, Martial Canterel. These included a stage play of zombies re-enacting key scenes from their past lives and a crane laying out a mosaic of human teeth. Heady stuff from 1913! Roussel also managed the theatre plays of his books, which flopped mercilesly. The world was not ready. The premiere of Locus Solus in The Hague attracted only one visitor - who got his money back. 

While money was not an issue, the lack of recognition was. Roussel grew weirder, isolated himself from the world and died young. You may not know that he was also the man who gave the world the caravan, as he preferred to travel in an exact replica of his living room on wheels.



Gaspard Pitiot said...

I have this book in my bookcase. I think I heard about this author whan I read about Marcel Duchamp about twenty years ago... Early xxth century in France, in Paris, was quite inspired. They loved puns.

Marcel Ruijters said...

He was indeed an inspiration to Duchamp, and the Surralist crowd.