by Raymond Roussel
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Amazon Editorial Review
Canterel, a scholarly scientist whose enormous wealth imposes no limits upon his prolific ingenuity, is showing a group of visitors round Locus Solus, his secluded estate near Paris. One by one he introduces, demonstrates and expounds the discoveries and
inventions of his fertile, encyclopaedic mind. An African mud-sculpture representing a naked child, a road-mender's tool which, activated by the weather, creates a mosaic of human teeth, a vast aquarium in which human beings can breathe and in which a depilated
cat is seen stimulating the partially decomposed head of Danton to fresh flights of oratory - by each item in Canterel's exhibition there hangs a tale, a tale such as only that amazing genius Roussel, one of the founding fathers of the modern novel, could
tell. As Canterel's devices become more and more elaborate, the richness and brilliance of Roussel's stories grow to match them; the flow of his imagination becomes a flood, until the reader finds himself swept along in a torrent of mingled wonder and hilarity.
Locus Solus, first published in 1914, is perhaps Roussel's most perfect masterpiece. Based, like the earlier Impressions of Africa, on uniquely eccentric principles of composition (which the interested reader will find outlined in Rayner Heppenstall's Raymond Roussel), this book invites the reader to enter a very special world of the imagination, a hauntingly unforgettable world which in its innocence, extravagance and deep reasonableness is unlike anything in the literature of the twentieth century.
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