The Skin of Dreams (Paperback)

The Skin of Dreams By Raymond Queneau, Chris Clarke (Translated by), Paul Fournel (Afterword by) Cover Image
By Raymond Queneau, Chris Clarke (Translated by), Paul Fournel (Afterword by)
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In this delightful, cinema-inspired daydream of a novel, an identity-shifting protagonist uses the everyday inspirations of his life to catapult himself into the realm of imagination, blurring the boundaries between reality and fantasy.

The Skin of Dreams is a novel of waking dreams. Even as he lives his life, Jacques L’Aumône, its hero, daydreams a hundred other possible lives. A few lines on a page, a chance encounter, a remark overheard in passing, any of these are enough to kick things into gear and send him off outside of himself to become a boxer, a general, a bishop, or a lord. He lives alongside his life with diligence and steadfastness; and the passage from real to dream is so natural for him that he no longer knows precisely which him he is. Eventually he becomes an actor in Hollywood, and the basis of countless dreams for others. This Jacques L’Aumône, like the characters who surround him, has the same sort of haunting and fluid consistency as someone that we might dream of in our beds at night. And reverie, here, is born through the tale’s humor, which is as gentle as it is cruel, as well as by way of a writing technique that is itself drawn from one of Queneau’s great loves, the cinema.

About the Author

Raymond Queneau (1903–1976) was born in the French town of Le Havre and educated at the Sorbonne. An early association with the Surrealists ended in 1929, and after completing a scholarly study of literary madmen of the nineteenth century for which he was unable to find a publisher, Queneau turned to fiction, writing his first novel. Influenced by James Joyce and Lewis Carroll, Queneau sought to reinvigorate French literature, grown feeble through formalism, with a strong dose of language as really spoken. Queneau’s books, which typically blur the boundaries between fiction, poetry, and the essay, include Witch Grass and We Always Treat Women Too Well, both available as NYRB Classics.

Chris Clarke is a literary translator and scholar. He currently teaches in the Translation Studies Program at the University of Connecticut. His translations from French and Spanish include books by Raymond Queneau, Pierre Mac Orlan, Éric Chevillard, and Julio Cortázar, among others. He was awarded the French-American Foundation Translation Prize for fiction in 2019 for his translation of Marcel Schwob’s Imaginary Lives, a prize for which he was also a finalist in 2017 for his translation of Nobel Prize winner Patrick Modiano’s In the Café of Lost Youth, published by NYRB Classics.

Paul Fournel is a writer, publisher, and diplomat. He wrote his master’s thesis on Raymond Queneau and has published a book-length study of the Oulipo, of which he is a member.

Praise For…

"This breezy and witty episodic novel from Queneau (1903–1976), originally published in 1944 and newly translated by Clarke, chronicles the episodic adventures of a young dreamer....Clarke generally has a nimble way with Queneau’s wordplay and neologisms. This winning satire demonstrates the rewards of cultivating one’s imagination." —Publishers Weekly

"In this fantasy of fantasies, an imaginative boy becomes, after a time, a successful movie star....The novel’s playfulness with language borrows from Joyce; its noir-isms and grand fantasies predict gangster rap. There is a refreshing lack of morality in the novel. Jacques’ fantasies are not condoned, and his selfishness in making some of them real is not condemned. Read it in one sitting and find yourself more open to your own daydreams." —Kirkus Reviews

"Queneau was one of those writers who knew pretty much everyting there was to know about literature, but he also loved word games, and the language of the streets." —Nicholas Lezard
Product Details
ISBN: 9781681377704
ISBN-10: 1681377705
Publisher: NYRB Classics
Publication Date: January 30th, 2024
Pages: 208
Language: English