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Children of Clay (Sun & Moon Classics) Paperback – October 1, 2000


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Product Details

  • Series: Sun & Moon Classics (Book 100)
  • Paperback: 420 pages
  • Publisher: Sun & Moon Press (October 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557132860
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557132864
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,222,429 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

...full of phonetic spellings, double-entendres, portmanteau words and typographical horseplay. Madeleine Velguth's translation of these oddities is nothing short of heroic. -- The New York Times Book Review, William Ferguson

Customer Reviews

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By darragh o'donoghue on August 15, 2001
Raymond Queneau's works are generally circumscribed in scope, with a small cast of characters and restricted, usually Parisian settings. Their vastness comes from a philosophical play with time, and a casual use of recondite allusion. 'Children of Clay', however, is quite literally encyclopaedic. In the early 1930s, Queneau compiled an anthology of 19th century literary lunatics (cranks, conspiracy theorists, alternative semioticians, cosmologists etc.), which failed to find a publisher. This novel features a provincial, aristocratic headmaster who researches and compiles such an encyclopaedia, huge, dizzying chunks of which prop up the novel, hatstand versions of the universe's beginning jostling with paranoid accounts of what really happened in French history.
'Children of Clay' is many other things too. It is a huge historical novel, set in the France of the late 1920s and early 30s, with the Stock Market Crash, the decline of the aristocracy and the giant industrialists, working class unrest, anti-Semitism, the rise of fascism. The large dramatis personae include the Hachamoth family, the Jewish Baron and his extreme Catholic wife, her foppish younger brother, her beautiful daughters and religious zealot son; Clemence, their disfigured maid; the Gramignis, refugees from Fascist Italy; Robert Bossu, a barowner's son, convinced of his impending greatness in the new France; Chambernac himself, an inept sexual transgressor, who, in a reverse of the Faust story, forces a devil to sign a contract to help him complete his encyclopaedia.
Mirroring his madmen's cosmologies, all these characters ultimately descend from one man, Claye, only glimpsed in one paragraph, committing suicide from a plane.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 31, 2000
Children of Clay offers the Master of Literary Illusion's greatest irony, but it ultimately remains unclear if this was Queneau's intention. A principal character in the story, a Monsieur Chambernac, has made it his life's obsession to exhume and bring to light, in a bibliographic encyclopeadia, the works and lives of a collection of obscure, mostly self-published, largely unreadable, delusional 19th century French writers, who have in common only that no interest has ever been taken in their work. M. Chambernac refers to his subject matter as the "literary lunatics." In the end, Chambernac is unable to find a publisher and fails to generate any interest at all in his esoteric encyclopaedia. Answering his own criteria for inclusion in the ranks of literary lunatics, he abandons his manuscript to an unknown author, named Queneau, who requests permission to incorporate the material into a novel he is writing. In fact, as we learn from the introduction, Queneau himself painstakingly researched this material for a similar undertaking and unable to interest a publisher in it, constructed this novel around it in order to get the material into print. As always, Queneau's writing is clever and entertaining, but the various characters and sub-plots fail to cohere adequately to justify the novel form.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By "suavis-sum" on December 21, 2000
While this volume is a difficult read, it is at once tragic yet humourous; thought-provoking yet full of madness; fantasic yet realistic. Anyone who enjoys a though provoking book, touching on almost all aspects of life will enjoy this book.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ben Singleton on May 23, 2000
Anything by Queneau attracts attention, but this was dissappointing, and hard work to get to the end. The plot, unusually, meanders or is obscure - a thin technique to print the mad scientists' manuscripts that clog up the text.
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