Saturday, June 11, 2005

This morning, a commemoration

Chapter one of Jacques Roubaud's novel The Great Fire of London begins:

This morning of 11 June 1985 (it's five o'clock), while writing this on the scant space left from by the papers on my desktop, I hear passing, in the Rue des Francs-Bourgeois, two floors below on my left, a delivery van which has probably pulled up in from of the former Nicolas store beside the Arnoult butcher shop.

A quiet opening. I still return to this book, despite numerous readings, intrigued by its quietness: quiet ambition, quiet intensity, quiet success.

You can read more about it in a rich online casebook published, like the novel itself, by Dalkey Archive. There's also an essay - Interlaced with Night - by me, and various blog entries at Spurious.

The novel is, however, only the first in a cycle of (at least) five in the original French:

Le grand incendie de Londres
La Boucle
Mathématique: récit
Poésie: récit
La Bibliothèque de Warburg

It's fourteen years since Dominic Di Bernardi's translation was published.


Please email me at steve dot mitchelmore at gmail dot com.

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