18 September 2014

Raymond Queneau in Juvisy-sur-Orge, Essonne

1903 – 1976'

Queneau lies with his parents in the small cemetery of Juvisy-sur-Orge, Essonne. Famous above all for his crazy novel Zazie dans le métro, which Louis Malle turned into an equally crazy film. He is also noted for being the co-founder of the experimental literary group Oulipo, a group particularly interested in constraints – Georges Perec's e-less La Disparition (A Void in English) being an obvious example.

Queneau's novel Les Enfants du Limon (1938) – translated as Children of Clay – was the best he could make of his work on 'fous littéraires' (roughly 'outsider writers'), but one which came like a thunderbolt to André Blavier and probably saved him from killing himself. Blavier's reference book Les Fous littéraires – a huge work of information on writers of largely self-published works so crazy that almost no publisher would touch them – is the generally acknowledged authority on this area of literature. It's unfortunate that not many people are aware of this superb labour of love.

There is now a Médiathèque Raymond-Queneau in Juvisy-sur-Orge.

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