Cover

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Frontmatter

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Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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p. vii

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Introduction

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pp. 1-17

Although it’s been pure agony ever since, this book began in a moment of bliss. As part of my research for an earlier study, I had gone to the Centre de documentation Raymond Queneau in Verviers, Belgium, to look through Queneau’s manuscripts; I didn’t quite know what I was hoping to find in those pages...

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1. Copy

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pp. 19-69

Let me begin by assuring you that I have read Raymond Queneau’s novel Le chiendent. A strange thing to say, perhaps, but every interpretation of this work—and of any other, of course, mutatis mutandis—must begin with that simple claim. In a work of literary criticism...

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2. Manuscript

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pp. 71-136

Nor, for that matter, do i know what happens in Le chiendent. That’s not meant as a boutade, and certainly not as an admission of readerly incompetence or inattention. I have, after all, read Le chiendent, whatever that means, and so I do know what happens, but as I’ve just noted, what that...

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3. Translation

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pp. 137-202

And the same goes, differently, for translation. The very notion of allowing a translation to affect our understanding of the original text in any serious way seems absurd on the face of it, precisely because of that phrase “the original text,” which implies a relationship very like that...

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4. Critical Edition

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pp. 203-255

But even I weary, in the end, of not knowing things. Everything I’ve said so far has relied so unremittingly on the other book’s power to undo whatever we thought we knew about the book itself, or about reading, or about books in general, that I feel a bit relieved to be turning now...

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Conclusion

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pp. 257-260

What I’ve said here changes nothing, of course. Tomorrow I will pick up a novel and begin to read, and no matter how full my head of the uncertainties I’ve just laid out, I will read exactly as I always have, never doubting the perfect knowability of the thing...

Works Cited

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pp. 261-265

Index

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pp. 267-273