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Raymond Queneau

Raymond Queneau (February 21, 1903 - October 25, 1976), French poet and novelist.

Table of contents
1 Life
2 Works
3 Links


Born in Le Havre, Queneau spent much of his life working for French publisher Gallimard. He briefly joined the Surrealists, but found that their approach of letting the unconscious mind create did not suit him.

Rather, elements of a work, including seemingly trivial details such as the number of chapters, were things that had to be predetermined, perhaps even calculated. This idea was later one of the cornerstones of the Oulipo momvement, of which he was a founder. He was also a member of the College of Pataphysics.

He came to general attention in France with the publication in 1959 of his novel Zazie dans le métro, and with the film adaptation by Louis Malle in 1960 at the height of the nouvelle vague movement in French film. Zazie explores colloquial language as opposed to written French; a distinction which is more marked in French than some other languages. The first word of the book, the alarmingly long "Doukipudonktan" is a phonetic transcription of "D'où qu'il(s) pue(nt) donc tant ?" "Why do(es) he/there stink so much ?".

After the founding of the Oulipo in 1960, Queneau turned further to mathematics as a source of inspiration.