FACT: Nouvelles Impressions d’Afrique is the last work that the French poet, playwright, and novelist Raymond Roussel published during his lifetime. He began drafting it in 1915, but the poem was not to appear until the autumn of 1932, less than a year before its author was found dead in his room at the Grande Albergo e delle Palme in Palermo, Sicily at the age of 56.
New Impressions of Africa
Translated and introduced by Mark Ford
Raymond Roussel (1877-1933) was one of the French belle époque’s most compelling literary figures. During his lifetime, Roussel’s work was vociferously championed by the surrealists, but never achieved the widespread acclaim for which he yearned. New Impressions of Africa is undoubtedly Roussel’s most extraordinary work. Since its publication in 1932, this weird and wonderful poem has slowly gained cult status, and its admirers have included Salvador Dalì–who dubbed it the most “ungraspably poetic” work of the era–André Breton, Jean Cocteau, Marcel Duchamp, Michel Foucault, Kenneth Koch, and John Ashbery.
This bilingual edition of New Impressions of Africa presents the original French text and the English poet Mark Ford’s lucid, idiomatic translation on facing pages. It also includes an introduction outlining the poem’s peculiar structure and evolution, notes explaining its literary and historical references, and the fifty-nine illustrations anonymously commissioned by Roussel, via a detective agency, from Henri-A. Zo.
We invite you to read the introduction online at: