New Impressions of Africa

Paul Grimstad writes:

Roussel’s long poem Nouvelles Impressions d’Afrique has done better in English than his Impressions d’Afrique. But Mark Ford’s facing-pages edition is easily the most comprehensive and reader-friendly to date. The author of the definitive biography of Roussel in English, Ford brings lucidity to his translation of what is by far Roussel’s most ambitious work, and probably his masterpiece. It’s a stupefying swirl of objects culled from Roussel’s zany idea of the everyday: chess pieces, dentists’ mirrors, playing cards, keys and locks, diamonds, cigar cutters, dominoes, envelopes, blackboards, eyelashes, canaries, fried eggs, fingers, fish-hooks, handcuffs. The brute contingency is scary, but again it seems somehow determined, as if the poem’s leaps and twists were all logically required.

(LRB 26 April 2012)

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