Tuesday

Raymond Roussel


While working on his first book he felt "an extraordinarily intense sensation of universal glory." The prominent psychologist Pierre Janet quoted Roussel as saying: "What I wrote was surrounded by rays of light. I closed the curtains, fearing that the smallest crack would let out the rays of light emitting from my pen. I wanted to remove the screen all at once and illuminate the world. If those papers had been left lying around, the rays of light would have reached China, and the bewildered mob would have stormed the house."  He felt himself to be the peer of Dante and Shakespeare; he knew the same glory as Hugo at seventy, Napoleon in 1811, Tannhäuser at the Venusberg. When the book was published, in 1897, he was amazed to find that life went on as usual and that nobody stopped him on the street.

Luc Sante
The New York Review of Books

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