How I Wrote Certain of My Books  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Comment j'ai écrit certain de mes livres (1935; English: How I Wrote Certain of my Books) is a posthumous text by French author Raymond Roussel which describes his writing method as follows: "I chose two similar words. For example billiards and pilliards (looter). Then I added to it words similar but taken in two different directions, and I obtained two almost identical sentences thus. The two sentences found, it was a question of writing a tale which can start with the first and finish by the second. Amplifying the process then, I sought new words reporting itself to the word billiards, always to take them in a different direction than that which was presented first of all, and that provided me each time a creation moreover. The process evolved/moved and I was led to take an unspecified sentence, of which I drew from the images by dislocating it, a little as if it had been a question of extracting some from the drawings of rebus." For example, Les lettres du blanc sur les bandes du vieux billard/The white letters on the cushions of the old billiard table… must somehow reach the phrase, …les lettres du blanc sur les bandes du vieux pillard/letters [written by] a white man about the hordes of the old plunderer.

How I Wrote Certain of my Books

How I Wrote Certain of my Books, 1995, ISBN 1-878972-14-6), translated by Trevor Winkfield, contains a cross-section of Raymond Roussel's major writings, including his essay on how he composed his books, the first chapter of each of Impressions d’Afrique and Locus Solus, the fifth act of a play, the third canto of New Impressions of Africa and all 59 of its drawings, and the outline for a novel Roussel apparently never wrote.




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