Jacques Roubaud

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Roubaud speaking at the Salon du Livre de Paris in 2008

Jacques Roubaud (French: [ʁubo]; born 5 December 1932 in Caluire-et-Cuire, Rhône) is a French poet and mathematician.

Life and career[edit]

Jacques Roubaud was a professor of Mathematics at University of Paris X. He is a retired Poetry professor from EHESS and a member of the Oulipo group, he has also published poetry, plays, novels, and translated English poetry and books into French such as Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark. French poet and novelist Raymond Queneau had Roubaud's first book, a collection of mathematically structured sonnets, published by Éditions Gallimard, and then invited Roubaud to join the Oulipo as the organization's first new member outside the founders.[1]

Roubaud's fiction often suppresses the rigorous constraints of the Oulipo (while mentioning their suppression, thereby indicating that such constraints are indeed present), yet takes the Oulipian self-consciousness of the writing act to an extreme. This simultaneity both appears playfully, in his Hortense novels, Our Beautiful Heroine, Hortense in Exile, and Hortense is Abducted, and with gravity and reflection in The Great Fire of London, considered the pinnacle of his prose. The Great Fire of London (1989), The Loop (1993), and Mathematics (2012) are the first three volumes of a long, experimental, autobiographical work known as "the project" (or "the minimal project"), and the only volumes of "the project", at present, to have been translated into English. Seven volumes of "the project" have been completed and published in French. To compose The Loop, Roubaud began with a childhood memory of a snowy night in Carcassonne and then wrote nightly, without returning to correct his writing from previous nights. Roubaud’s goals in writing The Loop were to discover, "My own memory, how does it work?", and to "destroy" his memories through writing them down.[1]

Roubaud has participated in readings and lectures at the European Graduate School (2007), the Salon du Livre de Paris (2008), and the "Dire Poesia" series at Palazzo Leoni Montanari in Venice (2011).[2][3]

He married Alix Cléo Roubaud in 1980; she died three years later.[4]

Works in translation[edit]

  • Our Beautiful Heroine. Trans. David Kornacker. Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 1987.
  • Hortense is Abducted. Trans. Dominic Di Bernardi. Elmwood Park, IL : Dalkey Archive Press, 1989.
  • Some Thing Black. Trans. Rosmarie Waldrop. Photographs by Alix Cleo Roubaud. Elmwood Park, IL: Dalkey Archive Press, 1990.
  • The Great Fire of London: A Story with Interpolations and Bifurcations. Trans. Dominic Di Bernardi. Elmwood Park, IL, USA: Dalkey Archive Press, 1991.
  • Hortense in Exile. Trans. Dominic Di Bernardi. Normal, IL: Dalkey Archive Press, 1992.
  • The Princess Hoppy, or The Tale of Labrador. Trans. Bernard Hœpffner. Normal, IL: Dalkey Archive Press, 1993.
  • The Plurality of Worlds of Lewis. Trans. Rosmarie Waldrop. Normal, IL: Dalkey Archive Press, 1995.
  • The Form of a City Changes Faster, Alas, than the Human Heart: 150 Poems, 1991-1998. Trans. Rosmarie Waldrop and Keith Waldrop. Normal, IL: Dalkey Archive Press, 2006.
  • Poetry, etcetera: Cleaning House. Trans. Guy Bennett. Los Angeles: Green Integer, 2006.
  • The Loop. Trans. Jeff Fort. Champaign, IL: Dalkey Archive Press, 2009.
  • Exchanges on Light. Trans. Eleni Sikélianòs. Iowa City: La Presse, 2009.
  • Mathematics. Trans. Ian Monk. Champaign, IL: Dalkey Archive Press, 2012.


  1. ^ a b Durand, Marcella. "Jacques Roubaud". BOMB Magazine. Summer 2009. Retrieved 26 July 2011.
  2. ^ "Poesia e matematica, "parenti" strette". Il Giornale di Vicenza. 2011-04-06. Archived from the original on 2011-07-24. Retrieved 2011-04-06.
  3. ^ "A Dire Poesia Jacques Roubaud e Piergiorgio Odifreddi: magico connubio tra matematica e poesia". Comune di Vicenza. 2011-04-05. Retrieved 2011-04-06.
  4. ^ "Quinze minutes la nuit au rythme de la respiration" (PDF) (in French). Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Further reading[edit]

  • Poucel, Jean-Jacques. "Jacques Roubaud and the Invention of Memory". North Carolina Studies in Romance Languages and Literatures. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006.
  • Puff, Jean-François. "Mémoire de la mémoire. Jacques Roubaud et la lyrique médiévale". Paris : Editions Classiques Garnier, coll. "Etudes de littérature des XXe et XXIe siècles", 2009.
  • Reig, Christophe. Mimer, Miner, Rimer : le cycle romanesque de Jacques Roubaud (La Belle Hortense, L'Enlèvement d'Hortense, L'Exil d'Hortense) - préface de Bernard Magné, New-York/Amsterdam, Rodopi, coll. " Faux-Titre" n°275, 2006. (ISBN 9042019786)

External links[edit]