How I Wrote Certain of My Books  

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