October 7, 2007

Raymond Roussel, Locus Solus

Brad, the editor of the great Neglected Books site [neglectedbooks.com], posted an annotated list of 20 out-of-print books I made in June of 2000. He added links to all the book titles. I'm going to post images of the books discussed (if I still have them). The permanent link for the list is here.

2. Locus Solus by Raymond Roussel (1877-1933, France).

First published in France in 1914. Rupert Copeland Cuningham's English translation first published in the UK by Calder in 1970 (and then in the US by University of California). Reprinted in 1983 in paperback by Calder and Riverrun. Again reprinted in 2003 by Calder/Riverrun (the edition I scanned). Hopefully we won't have to wait until 2023 for another reprint. Print-on-demand is always an option!***

Read Luc Sante's essay/review "The Scientist of the Fantastic" about Roussel, from the New York Review of Books, 1985. Read some pages from John Ashbery on Roussel.

***Jan.2008 update: I've since learned that John Calder has retired (was there an international day of mourning?), and his line has been purchased by Oneworld. Their statement: "
Oneworld Classics is delighted to announce the acquisition of the legendary Calder Publications list – which includes works by Beckett, CĂ©line, Artaud, Duras, Trocchi, Barker, Ionesco and Robbe-Grillet, among many others – and the Calder Bookshop on The Cut, near Waterloo, famous for its eclectic events programme."

Start flooding them with requests for Locus Solus.


  1. Hello there
    I have been looking for this book for a long time but there only seem to be rare (and expensive) copies available. When you say print on demand what do you mean? Do you have a digital copy of this book? best duncan

  2. Duncan, check out the next paragraph where I updated the post mentioning that Calder retired and sold his line of books. Before I had learned this happened, I made a dumb joke that the publisher could reprint the book as a POD (print on demand) title, which is a new-ish printing method used by publishers mostly to keep titles in print -- it's kind of like photocopying, although the quality has nearly reached the level of offset printing (how most books are printed today). Unfortunately, there has been no sign of Roussel's book being reprinted. You can read the first couple chapters in the Exact Change Roussel anthology "How I Wrote Certain of My Books."

  3. Does anyone know what the copyright rules are on this? For example, with a book like this, where people want it, and it's not available, what is stopping me from printing 500 copies of it in a POD way from the early 80s edition and distributing them?

  4. JuniorAspirin,

    I confirmed with OneWorld Classics that they are indeed reprinting this book, with a new cover, within a year or so. I would be patient. Copyright rules wouldn't allow you to reprint the translation, as someone currently owns it. They could then sue you if they felt up to it. Tracking down rights holders can be a real headache, and getting their permission can be a bigger headache, but getting sued would be...the biggest headache. Presumably the French text is public domain?

  5. Locus Solus in the original French is indeed in the public domain and is available through the Project Gutenberg website here: http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/19149.

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  7. I've been looking for this book for a long time, and was very happy to read here that it would be soon re-printed in English. I've been checking back at the OneWorld Classics website, but couldn't find it in their catalog.

    Today I checked again, and beheld:


    A much better price than the used copies I've seen on Amazon and eBay, and that new-book smell to boot!