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Harry Mathews Biography

(1930– ), Locus Solus, The Conversions, Tlooth, The Sinking of the Odradek Stadium, The Gold Bug, Cigarettes

american roussel mainly games

American novelist, born in New York; he studied music at Harvard, then at the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris, and has lived mainly in France since 1952. A friend of John Ashbery, Mathews edited Locus Solus, the magazine of the New York school of poets, from 1960 to 1962. He was the only American member of OULIPO, or Workshop of Potential Literature, an experimental group including Queneau, Perec, and Calvino. Out of these mainly Francophile interests, extending back to Apollinaire, Roussel, and Dada, came his dandified early works with their witty blend of intellectual fantasy and flamboyant games-playing. From Raymond Roussel in particular he drew absurd logic, a highly artificial manner, and texts-within-texts, incorporating maps, musical scores, indices, footnotes, and word games. Each of his first three novels involves complicated quests. The narrator of The Conversions (1962) has to solve three strange riddles in order to inherit a fortune; Tlooth (1966) is a travelogue-adventure imbued with eccentric erudition. Mathews's preoccupation is with the nature of the fictive, working in reflections on language, imagination, and reality. In The Sinking of the Odradek Stadium (1975) he manipulates the conventions of the epistolary novel; a series of letters concerning a search for treasure also becomes a rewrite of Poe's story The Gold Bug. Mathews continued his experimentation in Cigarettes (1987) with its interlocking narratives about well-to-do American characters. A Mid-Season Sky: Poems 1954–1991 (1992) is characteristically fuelled by humour, experiment, and linguistic virtuosity.

John Joseph Mathews Biography - (c.1894–1979), Talking to the Moon, Walden, Wah'Kon-Tah, Sundown [next] [back] Aidan Mathews (Aidan Carl Mathews) Biography - (1956– ), (Aidan Carl Mathews), Antigone, The Diamond Body, Exit/Entrance, Windfalls, Minding Ruth

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