Jacques Roubaud (b. 1932)
L'Atelier d'écriture: Jacques Roubaud (1995)
Jacques Roubaud is a professor of poetry at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, and he 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.
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.
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).