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The Great Fire of London
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Part novel and part autobiography, The Great Fire of London is one of the great literary undertakings of the last fifty years. At various times exasperating, daunting, moving, dazzling, and challenging, it has its origins in Jacques Roubaud's attempt to come to terms with the death of his young wife Alix, whose presence both haunts and gives meaning to every page. Having failed to write his intended novel ("The Great Fire of London"), instead he creates a book that is about that failure, but in the process opens up the world of the creative process, which is at once an attempt to bring order to his ravaged personal life and to construct an intricate literary project that functions according to strict rules, one of them being the palindrome. Roubaud's novel stands as a lyrical counterpart to those great postmodern masterpieces by fellow Oulipian writers Georges Perec (Life: A User's Manual) and Italo Calvino (If on a Winter's Night a Traveler).
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About the Author

Jacques Roubaud is one of France's most important contemporary writers. He has published poetry, criticism, drama, and fiction, including the novels in his Hortense series and the several autobiographical volumes continuing the The Great Fire of London project, including The Loop and Mathematics: A Novel. A prominent member of the Oulipo, he taught mathematics for many years at the Universit Paris X Nanterre. He is also a prolific translator from English, having produced French versions of such classics as Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark and Edward Gorey's The Utter Zoo.

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A supremely human work, born of the spirited integrity of a rare mind out of the multiform experiences of a body capable of intense torment and delight. The Independent Jacques Roubaud has finally produced the book that his great and varied talent had always promised... a beautifully controlled examination of the effect on him of his wife's death and of the failure of his literary ambitions. -- Gabriel Josipovici The Independent

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